I have found a material vocabulary through the use of concrete and textile based media. The fragility of the textile elements paired with concrete creates an opposition that translates my concepts into three dimensional works. I work with textile elements from my personal collection as well as those acquired through my research in Uganda to create sculptures that explore the relevance, history and identity associated with these materials.
Over the past 6 years I have traveled to Uganda and worked with Ugandan cultural arts. I witnessed the use of the hand to develop intricate and beautiful pieces that spoke of the society and expressed the individual. The process of making became very important, leading first to a body of work exploring my direct relationship to the handmade Ugandan objects and next, to evaluating my own process of making as an artist and how that can be communicated through the layering and building of forms. In my current body of work, I am making visual recordings through the use of detritus from my life and studio. I am taking elements and works from the past and employing them in new forms that serve to document and comment on the material objects that define our personal time. For me, these are woven pieces, broken forms, and cut offs of previous works. The process of layering these fragile pieces within concrete is meant to pose a delicate balance between the materials; the layers allude to written text and recordings.
The focus, in my studio, on the expressive potential of the handmade, has led to the development of community based art initiatives here and abroad in Uganda. I approach the conceptualizing of art programs and community artworks to engage communities in activities, artworks, and programs to better understand ideas of culture, identity, and the handmade. Many of these projects are brought back into my studio where I respond to the making and create new works that hold each individual contribution. --Lesli Robertson