I am a sculptor and painter working in New York City and Houston. My body of work explores the ways in which materiality can give form and visibility to psychologically complex dimensions. Trauma, loss, and desire are recurring themes I approach through material processes as I devise a personal metaphorical language. My work is biographical in essence but my aesthetic language allows viewers to find their place among the bare narrative outlines that hold each piece together. My projects often involve series through which a loose narrative can be traced. Each takes on various forms intended to position the viewer as a witness as well as a co-author, creates new and unpredictable cycles of thoughts and associations, and provides an experimental opportunity to challenge one’s assumptions and perspectives.
My practice is steeped in a genuine passion for materials and their expressive potential. I often let materials guide me through the creative process. Their malleability and resistance point me towards a subject that emerges as part of a meditative concentration—a tactile and open-ended dialogue that often results in a deeper reflection and comprehension of personal struggles. Manipulating, rearranging, and layering become gestural statements I perform to process events from the past and exorcise, through the material presence of the finished piece, their impact on the present.
The aesthetics that characterize my work are in part informed by the sculptural abstractism of the 1970s—especially the work of female pioneers like Lynda Benglis, Lynn Umlauf, and Merrill Wagner, artists that have been strong influences in my research. As a result of these influences, in my relationship with materials, I favor open form and ambiguities, privileging aesthetic solutions that gesture towards the imperfect and incomplete.
My minimalist aesthetics are often counterpointed by bold colors that dramatize each piece in order to attract the viewer’s attention to what is often concealed or barely perceptible in our lives. Much of my practice thus revolves around the notion of monumentalizing the ephemeral through the creation of an idiosyncratic aesthetic language. It is in this context that my work can be seen to have a psychoanalytical/introspective edge. Some of my works are opportunities to reconsider “hard to come to terms with” circumstances, dramatic events, or fleeting/causal moments that nonetheless end up defining our personalities, our self-esteem, and our relationships with others.
I hold an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and have studied at Mount Holyoke College, Hunter College, and the Art Students League of New York. My work is represented by galleries in Saugerties, NY, Houston, TX, Williamsburg, VA, and Jersey City, NJ and it has been exhibited widely across the United States and abroad. Recent shows include ChaShaMa and Sculptors Alliance in New York City. I also recently exhibited a selection of my work at Holy Art Gallery in London, UK, Site:Brooklyn, Emerge Gallery in Saugerties, NY, the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, CT, the Susquehanna Art Museum in Harrisburg, PA, and the Meadows Gallery in Tyler, TX.
Review Of Wrapping And Unveiling
Jay Youngdahl, Independent Curator
A Gift Worth Seeing: a review of Wrapping and Unveiling
Saugerties, NY December 1, 2020
While contemporary artists often work in a multi-disciplinary fashion, combining different media does not always succeed in producing pleasure as well as meaning. One place it does, however, is in Lesley Bodzy: Wrapping and Unveiling at the Emerge Gallery in Saugerties, NY. For the viewer, Bodzy’s works are thought provoking as well as pleasurable to view.
The show contains over thirty works by Bodzy, and includes paintings and sculptural wall hangings, made of a variety of materials. The works are experiments in production for Bodzy, as with each piece she embarks “upon a journey of discovery, for myself and for the viewer.”
Bodzy, who has mastered many artistic as well as business and legal skills in her life, splits her time between Houston and New York City. An artist deeply focused on craft, she considers herself a painter; yet, her recent work often canters in a three dimensional direction. In the most arresting works in this exhibition, malleable paint skins of various hues and sizes are displayed as folds and coverings, allowing the attributes of the paint to shine through while showcasing mystery and meaning that emanate from the hidden below. The paint skins undulate over whatever is behind, showing a glimpse of surrealism’s influence on Bodzy. Her wrapped objects show as undefined enigmas, inviting one along a pathway of reflections. They allow a viewer to traverse personal multitudes of meanings, a useful exercise in these fraught times.
Skins come in many guises, from bodies to taxidermy and on to Bodzy’s malleable poured paint. As she works with skins, she has studied their use by other artists, especially others working today. The work of Angel Otero, who is currently showing in New York City, is an example, as are the works of the South African artist Nandipha Mntambo. Mntambo is known for her sculptural works, where she often uses cow skins for her material.
As befits Bodzy’s time in the MFA program at the Art Institute of Chicago, a number of influences from the art history canon can be seen. One is reminded of the work, L’Enigme d’Isidore Ducasse, 1920, by Man Ray, in which Ray wrapped a sewing machine in a blanket and tied it with string, foreshadowing the conceptual movement. Artists like Rene Magritte and Christo/Jeanne Claude have successfully employed wrapping techniques as well.
While meaningful works often do not concern themselves with phenomenological pleasure, Bodzy’s do. Bodzy, though, is quick to say that she does not focus on “beauty” but on perception, attention and mystery. Yet her show traverses the line between conceptual and decorative art, making her pieces comfortable in a home or gallery space, especially since Bodzy knows color.
Viewing the exhibition, the folds in the sculptural skins reminded me of the viewer of the folds of the garments in a Bernini sculpture, vigorously emotive and alluring. At this fraught time, art that can remind us, even just a little, of the beauty we would see in a visit to Rome’s Borghese Museum is a gift worth unwrapping.
“Lesley Bodzy: Wrapping and Unveiling” runs virtually through
February 15, 2021 at Emerge Gallery in Saugerties, NY.
Her work can also be seen in this virtual gallery