Boston artist Leah Piepgras likes to discover the edge between control and chaos in her paintings. In 2011 I stayed with Leah, her family and my brother in their beautiful home in Boston, where she let me have a detailed look at her studio. I discovered her artwork, which she creates with a deep honesty, always filled with a story of her own. Leah also loves to make stuff, especially functional objects. Recently she has created dinnerware and a necklace. Everything is about transformation. "I create spaces inhabited with pieces of bodies and depictions of thoughts", Leah says. "I think of the bodies in my paintings in the same way, in a constant state of becoming." With Trade Your Talent she speaks about the extremes of being, visual change and why she likes to work on several pieces at once.
What inspires you to your artwork?
I love to make stuff...The act of creating is about looking for truths, not knowing the answers along the way. My work focuses on extremes of being- the physical and the mental, anatomy and cognition. I am interested in the moments when they overlap and where they come apart. In paintings, I create spaces inhabited with pieces of bodies and depictions of thoughts where happiness, bliss, and euphoria are the proof of the soul. For me, the act of painting hovers on that edge between control and chaos.
In my paintings I think of thoughts as clouds and mists, and how, before you can grasp a full idea, they float away and all you are left with is a feeling, an intention.
I don't think of these thoughts as lost though, because they float up into the air. I think of them in a constant state of visual change, with only the pithy truth of the idea remaining as the actual, physical, constant. I think of the bodies in my paintings in the same way, in a constant state of becoming, with shifts so subtle that you might always feel the same and, only by looking back, do you see the transformation.
Do you have creative blocks sometimes?
I usually have more ideas than time! I am always working on several pieces at once and I switch in between them depending on my mood. If I feel like I need to think about one piece I will just switch to another for a bit, but keep looking and thinking about the first piece. Frequently I will paint a whole other painting while thinking about the first one and end up painting over it. I destroy a lot of work because it doesn't go where I want it to.
If you could collaborate with another artist, who would you pick?
Recently, in addition to painting, I have been making functional objects. These pieces are visualization of the form and function of the body, while also being functional objects. The utilitarian use is the conceptual basis of the work and the user’s interaction is a daily life performance. It would be great to continue to work with manufactures and also to do work with someone like Stella McCartney or the house of Alexander McQueen.
When did you decide to become a full-time artist?
I have never thought of being anything else. I have always known this is all I wanted to do.
Find out more about Leah's work