MAJ invited Lesley Dill to be in this issue about APPROPRIATION, and this is what she wrote:

Yet—despite your excellent writing on appropriation, I feel this is an outdated term and so, have been resistant to be included. It is not about a cognitive selection process. It is more how Jonathan Edwards, the Puritan minister, would call being swallowed up by God.

May we let the work speak for itself?

My relationship to words is so deep and so intimate and so forceful, it feels as if the theme of appropriation undercuts my psyche.

and—Maine is so in me… all the months of black tree branches against the snow are like books to me.

Nancy Spero was my mentor and dear friend, and her work with text and images was deeply inspirational to me.

Lesley Dill

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Lesley Dill, “Red Ecstasy Dress Divide Light Opera,” 2008

And here is what others have written about Lesley Dill:

Lesley Dill’s “sculptures, art installations, mixed-media photographs, and evocative performances draw from both her travels abroad and profound interests in spirituality and the world’s faith traditions. Exploring the power of words to cloak and reveal the psyche, Dill invests new meaning in the human form.”

“Fluid metaphors, appropriated from the poetry and writings of Emily Dickinson, Salvador Espriu, Tom Sleigh, Franz Kafka, and Rainer Maria Rilke, connect the diverse media that Dill employs. Paper, wire, horsehair, photography, foil, bronze, and music comprise elements through which the artist conveys the complexities of communication. The often secret, indecipherable, and bold meanings of words emerge not only from hearing their sounds, but by feeling them—language is a visceral, bodily experience. Dill challenges the viewer to confront our linguistic relationships as well as perceptions of language itself.”

Barbara C. Matilsky, Lesley Dill’s Poetic Visions: From Shimmer to Sister Gertrude Morgan, Whatcom Museum, 2011.

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Lesley Dill, Black Dress from “Hell Hell Hell Heaven Heaven Heaven Encountering Sister Gertrude Morgan and Revelation,” Arthur Roger, 2010

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Lesley Dill, “Faith and the Devil,” Clay Center, 2014

“Lesley Dill … addresses words as containers of both meaning and meaninglessness, as tools of communication and as mute scribblings on a page.”

“Dill’s art does nothing so simple as illustrate text. . . . Using the written word as both a signifier and a kind of decorative motif, Dill covers everything she does with a seeming jumble of often illegible letters. Forcing the viewer to squint, stoop and search, sometimes in vain, for recognizable sentences, the artist creates messages that are as much a kind of linguistic code—marks representing ideas—as they are mute blemishes, abstractions whose resonance has more to do with emotion than rhetoric.”

Michael O’Sullivan, “Lesley Dill, In So Many Words,” The Washington Post, July 25, 2003.

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Lesley Dill, “Faith and the Devil,” Clay Center, 2014

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Lesley Dill, Blouin Wilderness series; “Emily Dickinson, Anne Hutchinson, Walt Whitman,” LD Studio, 2018

Note: Edgar Beem writes about Lesley Dill in Maine and the Art World elsewhere in the FALL issue of the Maine Arts Journal: UMVA Quarterly

Image at top of page: Lesley Dill, Wedding Dress, from “Hell Hell Hell Heaven Heaven Heaven Encountering Sister Gertrude Morgan and Revelation,” Arthur Roger, 2010