FROM KOLAJ 33
The Surrealism of Leslie Fry
The blending of human, natural, and architectural motifs is a hallmark of surrealism. André Breton’s 1924 Surrealist Manifesto called on artists to break down the divide between reality and the dreamworld. Often when this is done, the conversation drifts to how Salvador Dali informed the buildings of Frederick John Kiesler or Frank Gehry, or, to put it another way, how the human mind informs the man-made world. It’s a very early 20th century, manly approach to Modernism: Great men have great thoughts and go on to build great things. Leslie Fry steps into this arena with a sword of feminist thinking and cuts through the dogma. Her work shows how Surrealism can reorient our thinking about nature. Flora becomes the nest from which her creatures, our dream-like selves, emerge and thrive and exist in the world.
Fry’s Handling from “The Lives of Dahlias” series appears on the cover of Kolaj 33. A profile of the artist appears in the issue.
Fry’s practice challenges traditional notions of collage. Is the art the fragment, the cutting of the fragment, the placing of the image? What happens when art elements are juxtaposed with real world materials as they are in Handling where hands from Renaissance paintings mingle with soft orange dahlias or in Build from the “Norton Island Visions” series? A Medieval castle is posed against mossy boulders. The turbulent ocean waves rumble under a moody sky in the background. Or in Out where a nude figure scurries along a spruce branch. The use of photography as the glue that binds these collages together makes the work feel contemporary but ultimately, this work succeeds because it encourages us to see our imagination as something in harmony with nature. This is not the disruptive, interventionist Surrealism of early Modernism, but a fully realized 21st century interpretation of the idea.
Leslie Fry holds an MFA from the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College and a BA from the University of Vermont with additional studies at the Central School of Art and Design in London. She has shown her work extensively in solo and group shows across the U.S. and in Austria, Canada, South Korea, and Venezuela. Among her many awards, fellowships and residencies are a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant, a fellowship at Yaddo, a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, a Creation Grant from the Vermont Arts Council, and a fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. Her commissioned work may be seen in Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, Wisconsin and South Korea. Fry’s work is held in public collections including Tufts University, the City of Winooski, Vermont, the Musée d’art de Joliette, Quebec, and the International Sculpture Park in Songchu Art Valley, South Korea. Learn more at www.lesliefry.com.