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Lesley Dill

Black-and-white studio portrait of a smiling light-skinned adult woman with medium-length blond hair. She wears round glasses and a black turtleneck sweater.

Photo courtesy of George Adams Gallery, New York

Born in 1950

Dill credits her father, who heard voices and used a private, metaphorical language, for her early exposure to the nuances of language and its various degrees of intelligibility. She credits a book of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, a 40th-birthday gift from her mother, for dramatically changing the direction of her art.

Dill’s early work centered on attenuated figures sculpted of wood, bronze, or Celluclay. Though these figures dealt with themes of vulnerability and sensuality, they were relatively literal in concept. The incorporation of language, specifically poetry, provided new layers of meaning in her art. Such works argue that our sense of self is formed in large part through language and communication. Dill’s art has been further influenced by her travels in India and her interest in Buddhism.

The artist has been the focus of two retrospective exhibitions, which traveled widely. Her awards include a sculpture fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Artist Details

  • Name

    Lesley Dill
  • Birth

    Bronxville, New York, 1950
  • Phonetic Spelling

    LEHS-lee dihl

Works by Lesley Dill

I Heard a Voice

Through her art, Lesley Dill considers the ways body, language, and the spiritual world intersect. She often references literature, especially the poetry of Emily Dickinson.

I Heard a Voice relates instead to a vision the artist had at age 14. While looking out her bedroom window at dark leaves against the sky, she says, “I was given to understand the world…I...

Hundreds of light- and dark-gray shapes resembling oak leaves are mounted directly to a wall in the shape of an ice-cream cone. They appear to sprout from the index finger of a small, coal-black hand mounted near the floor. Delicate strands of thread hang down from the leaves.