Leslie Holt is from Bethesda, MD but considers herself a naturalized citizen of St. Louis, MO. She has a BFA in Painting from Washington University in St. Louis and an MFA in Painting from Washington State University. Between undergraduate and graduate school, she worked as social worker and advocate for people with disabilities and people living in poverty. Leslie currently lives in St. Louis, MO with her partner of nine years. She teaches art at Fontbonne University, St. Louis Community College, and Lewis and Clark Community College, and coordinates the Pediatricians in Community program at Washington University School of Medicine.
In her most recent Hello Masterpiece series, the artist juxtaposes the popular character, Hello Kitty, with famous images from art history. The painting's appeal as a take home, souvenir-sized object, similar to a postcard in a museum shop, reinforces its context as a commodity in a market and provides a satirical perspective on art's usual highbrow status. Hello Kitty tours art history, donning themed costumes to match elements of the famous paintings, sometimes pointing toward social or political issues, such as war, genocide, or gender identity. The artist relies on Hello Kitty's playful appeal to charm the viewer into looking, but her innocence often stands in sharp contrast with the dark adult subject matter of the art historical piece. Her status as a toy and her obvious overlay on the image disrupt any illusion that she actually fits in the scene of the artwork. The resulting paintings become a clash of high and low culture and a humorous commentary on the commodification of art.
Dr. Ivy Cooper of Souther Illinois University Edwardsville observes, "It takes an artist with Leslie Holt's seasoned, cynical humor and formidable eye to layer such familiar references and make them say something new." (see all of Dr. Cooper's essay.)
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