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Featured Artist: Lesley Etters

July 20, 2011

This week, Guildess is featuring Milwaukee-based artist Lesley Etters. I became aware of  Etters’ work during the MIAD Senior Thesis Exhibition 2011 and decided to interview her about her process and inspiration.  – April Heding (Director)


“With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future.  I live now.” -Emerson

This quote by Emerson has always stuck with me as an artist and pushed me to explore the quotidian’s of our current generation.  My work deals with the present, only adverting to the past and future momentarily when comparing the two.  Through my multidisciplinary approach of combining printmaking techniques with paint and collage I strive to explore a deeper understanding of why we do what we do in our everyday lives that are affected by the social media and how it shapes who we are as individuals and collectively as a society.

Born and raised in Green Bay, Wisconsin, I’ve spent the last four years attending The Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and am very excited to be spending the next few months traveling- exploring who I am as an artist in the ‘real world’ and figure out where to go from here.  Truly over the Midwestern winters, I plan to move to Atlanta, GA at the end of the summer.


1.     How did you find yourself at MIAD?

I was actually set on not going to college right after high school and started looking up gap-year possibilities when I got a call from MIAD asking for some information that I had missed on the application… turns out my friend Katie applied for me… and I got in! After the initial acceptance my art teacher helped me to put together a portfolio and after visiting the school knew it was a perfect fit.


2. Describe your most recent body of work. /  Is your mixed media approach important to the content of your work? How so?

The show that I had up at the MIAD senior thesis show was a collection of mixed-media pieces called “USER” Currently I have been investigating Internet portals, gaining a better understanding of the inner workings of Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Tumblr, Skype, etc…

I use a mixed media approach, creating a parallel between the layers of surface to the layers of truth (or lack there of) of the Internet world, emphasizing things that may otherwise be overlooked. Pushing the viewer to believe the subject is something it is not; and in turn proving the point that gender, race, age, fears, personality, even identity is all interchangeable and fleeting in this new technological era.


3.     Where do you draw your inspiration? How did you become interested in Internet portals?

I am intrigued by how the customary in humans lives, what consists of our everyday changes and evolves- shaping our history from decade to decade. I am realizing that the Internet is completely reshaping how we communicate and view the world around us in present day.  I am most specifically working with the cultural phenomenon of YouTube and how it is making us rethink truth.   I became so fascinated by these characters on my screen, almost addicted to watching these strangers’ vlogs and confessions. Anybody with a webcam all the sudden has a voice to say whatever they want, whether it be fact or fiction.   How this differs from physical situations is that it is available for the entire world to see.  Viewers can take anyone’s “personal” information and mash, manipulate, or morph into something the creator did not intend. I am doing what YouTuber’s do everyday, but in my own medium.


4.    How does your work fit into the local arts community? Do you know other artists working with similar topics?

Because of the content, this recent body of work fits within any community. These Internet portals are affecting us all in a larger-than-life way that can resonate with literally anyone.  Because of this I felt connected to a plethora of material and a variety of different artists throughout the creating of the show.  David Salle was a major inspiration for me who has also been working with ‘cultural/social/identity’ construction since the 80’s impressively foreshadowing the Internet phenomenon of definitive superficial social identity. Aram Bartholl is another artists who uses the Internet as inspiration but on a whole new level.  Showcasing, by taking pieces of cyberspace and planting them into physical real-world spaces.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 26, 2011 3:43 am

    Very interesting work. Great post!

  2. sallie permalink
    July 29, 2011 12:23 pm

    lesley you’re so talented!

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