Elements of the Imagination, an exhibit of sculptural costumes and paintings by Sandra Leonard, continues in the Simmerling Gallery at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St.
A Beverly/Morgan Park neighbor, Sandra Leonard received her BFA in sculpture at University of North Texas State and MFA from Northern Illinois University. She was greatly intrigued by concepts of the Bauhaus, a German art school and movement that fostered using utilitarian objects as art and the elevating craftsmen to artists.
Among the artists who inspired Leonard’s work was artist, designer and choreographer Oskar Schlemmer of the Bauhaus school whose costumes, displayed as sculpture, had a profound impact on Leonard’s fascination with creating sculptural costumes.
Leonard’s work focuses on sculptural clothing and performance. In the last 25 years she has been involved in numerous performances, improvised theater, alternative fashion shows and installation projects. Her work has been shown in Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and Paris.
She begins the costume-making process by painting the the fabric. by “I start each fabric painting intuitively, organically,” Leonard said in her artist’s statement. “I just go with my gut, let the spirit move me.”
Her technique uses dyes and a syringe to apply the line work. “The liquid dyes flow easily and quickly allowing that freedom of expression. I then go back into the painting and start working with the forms that have emerged,” she said.
Leonard develops images by layering and diluting the dyes, often using acrylic paints to add vibrant colors and textures. She incorporates these paintings in the wearable sculpture, displayed in exhihbits as well as in performances. “The performer is transformed into a painting as well as sculpture,” she said.
In 2014, as a Featured Artist for the annual citywide Chicago Artists Month, Leonard showcased ten sculptural costumes at the Beverly Arts Center (BAC) in a surrealist fashion show, “Crossing Into Dream.” In 2017, Leonard represented the 19th Ward in the “50 x 50” show at the Cultural Center and also that year premiered a performance/dance entitled “Wandering Bird” at the BAC. For “Wandering Bird,” Leonard created 10 wearable sculptures and collaborated with distinguished choreographer and dancer Sandra Kaufmann for an unforgettable performance.
Recently, Leonard designed interactive costumes for the Art Institute of Chicago’s “Room to Move” program in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus.
View Leonard’s work at the BAC until Mar. 27. Gallery admission is free. Visit www.beverlyartcenter for hours.