Kristin Leachman
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Kristin Leachman: Longleaf Lines

Saturday, Jul 23, 2022 — Sunday, Feb 05, 2023



In June 2020, artist Kristin Leachman traveled to an old-growth longleaf pine forest in southwest Georgia. Longleaf forests are one of the most biologically rich ecosystems in the world, second only to tropical rainforests; however, today these forests primarily grow on private lands and are largely unfamiliar to the general public. Through their scale and intimacy, Leachman’s paintings collapse this sense of distance and offer viewers a physically immersive experience. Focused on the longleaf’s bark formations, her works enlarge these patterns into monumentally scaled biomorphic abstractions. Capturing the tree’s marvelously scaly and fire-resistant surface, Leachman’s pictures also appear singed with fire. This effect points to the destructive histories of these landscapes. Longleaf once spanned 90 million acres across the southern United States, but declined to just 3 million acres after centuries of harvesting for ship masts, railroad ties and turpentine farming. These forests would have been cleared entirely for development had it not been for quail hunting, which became popular in the 1800s. The scorched surfaces of Leachman’s pictures also correspond with the practice of regular burn cycles that foresters now use to maintain the longleaf ecosystem. As both a ravaging and refining force, fire is a fitting metaphor for the revitalized forests of longleaf pine, which today rise phoenix-like from the ashes. “Longleaf Lines” represents part two of Leachman’s “Fifty Forests” project, which she began in 2010 in her adopted home state of California to document the self-organizing patterns in trees. The project is taking Leachman to various forested and deforested sites, protected and unprotected lands, in each of the 50 U.S. states. By transcribing the unspoken language of trees’ structural integrity and biological resilience, Leachman explores the intersection of painting and the natural world. “Fifty Forests” also reflects upon the relationship between humans and trees. What is at stake, Leachman’s paintings ask, as our country continually struggles to reconcile its connection to nature with its extractive use of natural resources?

 
Curator

Jeffrey Richmond-Moll, curator of American art


 Laguna Art Museum, April 22, 2021.

 

Exhibition Film: Xylem Rays  Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA. 2016-2017

 

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Kristin Leachman: Xylem Rays
Laguna Art Museum
October 16, 2016 - January 15, 2017
 
Fascinated by patterns, textures, and the seemingly chance imagery that can emerge from them, Kristin Leachman bases her latest series of paintings on the tissue that transports water from the roots of trees up to the leaves:
“Conceived as mystical messages and artifacts, they are an exploration of the sinews that bind us together, both physically and metaphysically. Nature is my guide as it was for the first Angeleno artists, Native American women. I consider them landscape paintings because they incorporate the landscape into their making. I allow the xylem to communicate information from the California forests through naturally occurring symbols, celestial bodies, natural phenomena, and animal imagery. Each painting describes for me the mythic history and essence of the landscape.”
 
A native of Virginia, Leachman studied Painting at the Rhode Island School of Design and Production Design at the American Film Institute, working for several years as a production designer in Hollywood before returning to full-time painting. Her work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. and the San Diego Museum of Art, among others. She lives and works in Pasadena.
 
Kristin Leachman: Xylem Rays is a key element in the museum’s annual Art & Nature festival (November 3-6). It is accompanied by a film about the artist and her work, and a booklet that includes an interview with Derrick R. Cartwright, Director of University Galleries and Associated Professor, University of San Diego.

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March 2017The National Gallery of Art, Washington,D.C., acquired a second work by Kristin Leachman February 1999  Pencil on wove paper 16 x 12 inches  1999 

 

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