“The idea for yesterday was commitment,” explained noted artist Lesley Dill regarding the three day workshop she led for Level III and IV Visual Arts students at NOCCA. “The idea for today is forcefulness.”
The New York artist has long incorporated language into her imagery, specifically the language of poets such as Emily Dickinson. She works across disciplines including printmaking, drawing, sculpture, photography and performance art and has exhibited widely across the country. For this workshop, she was using the words of Sister Gertrude Morgan, a preacher, missionary, folk artist, musician, and poet who worked in New Orleans in the 1960s and ‘70.
The theme given to students was “heaven and hell.” Ms. Dill brought with her a cache of xeroxed imagery for students to incorporate within in their own ideas and extensive research.
“I asked students to put themselves in my hands. And they did. They are very smart and came up with very good ideas. The process used is designed to open their minds and to see how creativity is about teamwork and fun.”
“Heaven and hell was chosen as a theme so that students could work with the intensity of emotion. And it was chosen to give everyone the freedom to not be neutral.”
The project evolved out of several months of conversation with NOCCA’s Visual Arts Chair, Mary Jane Parker. “It is so important,” believes Ms. Dill, “to have a master teacher working with a visiting artist,” in order to give students a fulfilling learning experience. Lesley Dill first visited NOCCA as a guest artist via a grant from the Surdna Foundation. Her experience then inspired her to return now, in conjunction with her solo exhibit at Arthur Roger Gallery.
“Lesley’s love of words,” says Ms. Parker, “and her coalescing of language and imagery was a thought-provoking experience for our students as they learn to communicate what is important to them.”