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2021 Artist

Candace Leslie

This use of gritty, gnarled texture and monochromatic scenes can be attributed to the growth I have seen through my perspective, ever-present curiosity and experimentation. My work evokes scenes of light, liveliness and I strive to showcase the beauty, brilliance and value of black people.


Candace Leslie is a visual artist exploring the symbiotic relationships evident in motherhood, haircare and the manifold forms of blackness. As self-taught oil painter and collage artist born and raised in Columbus, GA, she cultivated a strong appreciation for plant life, natural elements and fable and folklore. Utilizing a hybrid practice combining gritty, gnarled texture and multi-layered brushstroke techniques with transformative chroma, Candace paints upon various surfaces, including wood panel, framed canvases and long, linen strips.

Her current work highlights the nurturing aspects of haircare and rites of passing on cultural knowledge of this symbiotic nurturing transmitted across generations of women and children, showcased inside surreal, folkloric settings.Candace’s work has been included in the Hair @Ely group exhibition at Ely Center for Contemporary Art and West Harlem Arts: Resilience exhibition.

Artist Statement

From the onset I think about what my viewers will see behind the movement. Each of my paintings evoke a celebration of the manifold forms of blackness, demonstrate the symbiotic nature of relationships between people and within nature and calibrate vibrancy in monotone color schemes- in oil.

Depictions of black women engaged in hair braiding sessions and children animated in joyful expressions of play and life saturate every part of the surface of my work. Brimming with a vivacious exuberance of layered foliage, my paintings are mounted in light, liveliness and depictions of resilient vitality.

Each layer in my work performs as a conveyor belt for the eye. I manipulate a magnitude of hues across spectrums and create visually tangible items that grasp the attention of the viewer. Experiencing a lack of materials led me to develop a new technique of combining old, dried paint with fresh paint to then transform flat surfaces into rough, fertile landscapes that push and move your gaze across each plane. Gnarled texture gritted in animated, monochromatic scenes attribute to the vivid, lush surroundings portrayed as well as to the growth showcased through my focused perspective, ever-present curiosity and experimentation.

Influenced by Fauvism, Vincent Van Gogh and Kehinde Wiley among others and symbols of liberation, I operate on the belief that texture is a vital tool with which I create art. My work has been featured in the collective exhibition, West Harlem Arts: Resilience in April 2021. I participated in the Chashama Chanorth Artist Residency in May 2021 located in Hudson Valley, New York and was the recipient of the NYC JumpstArt Grant in July 2021. Currently her work is featured in the Hair at Ely group exhibition at Ely Center for Contemporary Art in New Haven, CT. Born and raised in Columbus, GA, I am currently based in Inwood, New York.


Artist Gallery