Leslie Barlow, photograph by Nicole Thomas
Leslie Barlow, photograph by Nicole Thomas

Leading up to the annual MCAD Art Sale, we spoke with some of the top sellers from the past two decades. Here, artist Leslie Barlow reflects on her sale experiences and describes her current practice.

Leslie Barlow ’16, MFA, is a practicing artist living and working in Minneapolis. Primarily an oil painter, Barlow's current work employs the figure and narrative elements to explore issues of multiculturalism, “otherness,” representation, and identity. She investigates complex topics and social tensions through the use of the personal—often creating works depicting family, friends, and people in her community and personal experiences—to reflect the subtle and not-so-subtle integrations of these ideas into individual lives and identities.

What has MCAD meant for you in terms of launching your creative career?

Going through the MFA program at MCAD was vital as it provided the necessary time, space, and mentorship to become confident in the direction of my work.

What are you doing now?

I currently work with youth twelve hours a week at Juxtaposition Arts in North Minneapolis teaching fundamental drawing skills, and I have an art studio in Northeast Minneapolis where I work regularly during the week, and oftentimes on the weekend, too. I get to teach a course for youth ages eleven to fourteen in the summer at the Minneapolis Institute of Art which I'm very excited about, and I plan on teaching at the college level in the fall.

Can you describe a memorable sale or moment from the MCAD Art Sale?

Honestly, all of the sales where I'm able to meet the people face-to-face at the sale and have a conversation with them are memorable. That's one of the best things about the MCAD Art Sale: getting to connect with the people who take your work home.

What do you love about making art?

Not only is it the best form of therapy for me in the world, but it also allows me to fully express myself in ways that I just can't do with the words that come out of my mouth!

Are there classmates/alumni who inspired you while you were in the sale?

I've always been impressed with the people who have these perfectly curated little collections for the sale. I wish I had that sort of focus and drive to pre-plan in that way.

Have you swapped work with your classmates?

No, but I have bought pieces from my classmates!

Do you have a favorite piece?

My favorite piece I've bought so far is a little bee illustration in a sourced vintage frame by fellow MFA grad Niky Montekallum.

What advice would you give young MCAD artists about the sale?

Just enjoy yourself and be present, chat with people about your work when they are floating by it.


Additional Top Seller Profiles