Artist StatementThe relationship between landscape and architectural structure is a complex one. Humans created buildings to ultimately provide one basic function: shelter. The desert of the American southwest presents a unique situation in this regard. The architecture not only protects inhabitants from the harsh climate, in many cases it also opens up to the landscape by way of large, pane-less windows that bring the landscape in, while keeping the heat out. My work explores the tension created from this visual divide between man and nature. It reflects my recent experience of three years living in Arizona. I use a combination of installation and 2D works to mimic, but also stretch and manipulate the relationship between a viewer and their surroundings. The focus is on the architectural structure of the window, situating the viewer apart from a natural “beyond.” By using layers of paint, collaged layers of paper, and forced visual perspective in the case of installations, I create a visual divide between the spectator and their subject. The painted landscape, a beautified and idyllic image of what we think nature is, lies just beyond our reach – visible but also obstructed and inaccessible. The intimate architectural space now creates a complex barrier from a much wider outside universe. Oriented within this space, the viewer is asked to evaluate their own relationship to the land and sky surrounding them beyond the walls. Through this work, I question whether we can truly consider ourselves a part of nature anymore.
Leah Lewman is an artist whose current work focuses on the visual struggles between manmade structures and natural landscapes. Lewman has exhibited her work in spaces across the country, including the 2012 National Juried Exhibitionat the Art Institute & Gallery in Salisbury, MD; Landscape at Escape Velocity, a 2015 exhibition at Fine Arts Complex 1101 in Tempe, AZ; and the 2016 Wet Paint MFA Biennial Exhibitionat the Zhou B. Art Center in Chicago, IL. Most recently she participated in Pushing Paper at Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, and The Built Environment at Orr Street Studios in Columbia, Missouri.
Lewman received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting in 2013 from Salisbury University in Salisbury, MD. In May 2017, she received an MFA in 2D Studio Art at the University of Arizona, Tucson, where she served for 3 years as Instructor of Record. She currently lives in the Baltimore, MD are and teaches as Adjunct Faculty at both Frederick Community College and the University of Maryland, College Park.