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[PHOTO GALLERY] Barlow showcases authenticity in the “Loving”

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Twin Cities Artist Leslie Barlow's "Loving" gives representation to relationships that do not always fit societal ideals.

Leslie Barlow, a Twin Cities-based artist whose colorful and realistic portraits showcase authentic connections, will be featured in Drake Gallery from Oct. 26 to Dec. 7. Pieces from her recent project the Loving Series will be incorporated into Upper School art classes while being on display for the community to admire.

Barlow was selected by former Upper School Art Department Director Marty Nash as an effort to showcase local artists and their work. The Twin Cities are engrained into the Loving Series both through inspiration and through subject matter. Barlow’s desire to showcase biracial families in this series was sparked by a General Mills commercial for Cheerios from 2013. This advertisement, created by the Minnesota based company, centered around a biracial family and was subject to controversy as a result. In a response to this, Barlow created in the series to “reveal the tension that exists between these images and contemporary culture’s perception of what a ‘real’ or ‘regular’ family looks like.” She chose real people from the Twin-Cities and used them as inspiration in order to create the three-dimensional portrayal of people in her community that is the Loving Series.

The lack of representation of interracial and diverse family dynamics has impacted the way American people perceive family normalcy.”

— Twin Cities Artist Leslie Barlow

Through this series, Barlow seeks to widen the lens of today’s media. “The lack of representation of interracial and diverse family dynamics has impacted the way American people perceive family normalcy,” Barlow said. The Loving Series is meant to begin conversations rather than enforcing a concrete interpretation. “I desire to pose questions or ideas and invite others in to bring their own responses and experiences to the work,” Barlow said.

These conversations will be encouraged through the gallery show. “I think that it’s important for the students of SPA to see different types of artists working, artists of different races, working and especially in their own community,” gallery organizer Middle School Art Teacher Cheryl Wilgren said. Barlow embraces opportunities like these, “[M]y work is not made just for myself. Artwork is meant to be shared and seen.” 

Students will be able to interact with both the pieces in the gallery and with Barlow herself. Painting and drawing classes taught by Upper School Art Teacher Mara Duvra will have a chance to visit the gallery and ask questions to the local artist. “It’s not very often that you get to go see an exhibition and then have the live person in front of you,” Duvra said. This connection to the students fuels the gallery. “That is the main reason the gallery is here,” Wilgren said, “is for students to see professional artists work.” The interactivity between Barlow and art classes is sure to inspire many student artists while encouraging acceptance.

It’s not very often that you get to go see an exhibition and then have the live person in front of you.”

— Upper School Art Teacher Mara Duvra

The representation of multiple family dynamics in clear in Barlow’s works. Check out “Loving,” Barlow’s colorful and expressive exhibit open until Dec. 7.

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