New York artist speaks at Voices from the Vault



Voices from the Vault featured artist Lesley Dill on Feb. 15th.

Tuesday, Feb. 15, Ulrich Museum of Art hosted the latest installment of their series, Voices From The Vault

In this installment, artist Lesley Dill, an American contemporary artist based out of Brooklyn, New York, shows event goers a look at her art as well as the inspirations behind her exhibition, “Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me. “

The Voices From the Vault series is a five-year series that highlights several decades from the past that leads up to the Ulrich Museum’s 50th Anniversary in 2024. 

Dill’s Exhibition is the first installment of 2022 and the fourth installment overall. Her work is inspired by authors, writers and abolitionists from the Civil War era. 

Dill stated that this project has taken her seven to 10 years to complete and it was in the works during both pre and post-pandemic. 

“We continued to work throughout the pandemic, remotely,” she said. “Thanks to FedEx.” 

Dill’s exhibition is made entirely by hand using hand-painted letters, handmade costumes and horsehair knotted into the costumes to make it look authentic to the time period.

“I love that sense of repetitive action, time invested, touch of a hand,” she said. “That impulse holds true in nearly all my work.” 

Dill describes her exhibit as a reading, leading and meeting exhibition.

“Reading the works of others, going back into another time period,” she said. “So many of the figures in this world, in this exhibition, have a relationship of visual and acting revelation.”

She said that she has found comfort with what she describes as “searching, rapturous people,” due to her experience as a teenager growing up in Maine.

“Suddenly I became all eyes, my screen became dark,” she said. “I was given to see all, I was given to see the good and it was all-encompassing and it was all alright.” 

When she started this project, Dill said she wanted to look for empathy and validation from these historical and spiritual figures who inspired her pieces in this exhibition.

This exhibition is also a mission for Dill to talk about these figures in history.

“In a way it’s like an eccentric dinner party,” She said “That’s moving around the country.” 

The project started out with a miniature figure of Historical Preacher Anne Hutchinson.

“I thought, ‘Oh she’s so little,’” she said. “Why don’t I make her like a giant?” 

When she made her figures, she made them half an inch smaller than the height of her studio. 

“My studio [ceiling height] is 9 feet, so I made the figures 8 and a half feet,” she said. “So I could really live with these giants of history.” 

Dill ended the event with one piece of advice for young aspiring artists. 

“I would give the advice Horace Pippin gives,” she said. “Which is ‘Pictures come to my mind, and I tell my heart to go ahead.’”