Leslie Holt

Region: South

Website: http://www.leslieholt.net

City / State: Hyattsville, MD

Unspeakable originated with my connection to Picasso’s Guernica. I feel compelled to return to this painting again and again, as it conveys extreme emotions for which words are insufficient. I embroider images of figures translated directly from Guernica. The series evolved to include imagery from other art-historical representations of distraught women by Kathe Köllwitz, Vincent van Gogh, and Frida Kahlo, as well as the preparatory sketches for Guernica. These women portray raw emotions—some are grotesque, nearly vulgar—reflecting the facial distortions of despair. Stains of saturated acrylic paint hover over the figures like daunting clouds. The stains hold history and reveal unruly, wordless memories.

This series began with a very personal pairing of Guernica figures with stitched-line drawings based on my aging mother’s hair, which fell out as I washed it. The hair is residue of rare moments of tenderness between us. Much like the hair-washing, the small stitches require careful attention and a slow pace. The activity is simple but full. A lot is left unspoken.