A JSC faculty member since 1984, Ken Leslie has spent his artistic career crossing boundaries. A self-proclaimed “late bloomer” when it comes to art — he didn’t take his first art class until his final year at Amherst College) — Ken bridges the scientific and the artistic together in his work, “exploring, documenting, measuring, calculating, identifying and explaining” to arrive at a finished piece.
He received his M.F.A. in painting from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to show his work nationally and internationally. He began to push the boundaries of traditional painting, experimenting with circular and other non-traditional shapes. He pushed so far beyond the conventional painting form — folding the paintings to accentuate their narrative sequences — that he began making artist’s books.
Since then he has specialized in making limited-edition and one-of-a-kind artist’s books, ranging in size from two inches to 10 feet and including not only painting but writings on a variety of themes, “including our place in the universe, a layman’s theory of relativity, the battle between nature and technology, and, most recently, light and dark on and above the Arctic Circle.”
Today Ken is well-known for his 360-degree panoramas painted on large folded wheels of paper, often depicting changing seasons or the span of a day. He draws much of his inspiration from the arctic and frequently produces his art in that region. Between July 2011 and July 2012, Ken created a circular panorama of the view surrounding the Vermont State House in Montpelier from the top of capitol dome, displaying the passage of the seasons. The work was on display the following summer at the Vermont Supreme Court. A video of Ken’s “Golden Dome” project was created by filmmaker Eva Sollberger for her “Stuck in Vermont” series.