Lesley Dill

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Lesley Dill
Born 1950 (age 66–67)
Bronxville, New York
Nationality American
Education Maryland Institute College of Art, Smith College, Trinity College
Known for Sculpture, Performance, Printmaking, Drawing, Photography
Spouse(s) Ed Robbins, Documentary Filmmaker
Website http://www.lesleydill.net

Lesley Dill (born 1950) is an American contemporary artist. Her work has addressed the power of language as it relates to the psyche. Dill currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Early Life and Education[edit]

Dill was born in 1950 to high school teachers, and was raised in Maine.

Dill received a Bachelor of Arts in English in 1972 from Trinity College and went on to receive a Master of Arts in Teaching from Smith College in 1974. After a period of teaching in public and private schools, Dill went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1980.

Artistic career and style[edit]

Dill's style explores the relationships between language, body, emotion and society. Dill has described language as being, "...the touchstone, the pivot point of all my work."[1] Her work crosses traditional boundaries between artistic disciplines and includes printmaking, drawing, sculpture, photography and performance art, often used in tandem with one another.

Community projects and performances[edit]

In addition to her sculpture and works on paper, Dill is also known for her performance work and public projects. In 2000, the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem presented Lesley Dill, Tongues on Fire: Visions and Ecstasy, the artist’s first community-based project which included a performance done in collaboration with the Emmanuel Baptist Church Spiritual Choir.

In 2003, Dill’s performance project I Heard a Voice done in collaboration with Tom Morgan and the Ars Nova Singers was presented at the Evergreen Cultural Centre (Vancouver). It included the world premier of the performance piece I Dismantle.


In 2008, Dill conceived and directed a full-scale opera, “Divide Light,” based on the language of Emily Dickinson. The opera premiered in August 2008 at the Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, CA.[2] The opera was commissioned by Montalvo Arts Center and was supported in part by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation Multi Arts Production Fund, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. A film of the opera, “Divide Light,” premiered in New York City at the Anthology Film Archives in April 2009. The music for “Divide Light” was done in collaboration with composer Richard Marriott.

In 2012, Dill began collaborating with Pamela Ordoñez on Drunk with the Starry Void, a multimedia musical performance. It premiered in the summer of 2015 at the McNay Museum in San Antonio.[3]

In the Spring of 2018, Dill's opera Divide Light is scheduled to be re-performed in New York City by the New Camerata Opera.[4]


Hell Hell Hell/ Heaven Heaven Heaven

Her work has been widely exhibited and the subject of numerous solo shows across the United States at both commercial galleries as well as museums such as the Neuberger Museum of Art (Purchase, NY), Mississippi Museum of Art (Jackson, MS), Queens Museum of Art and the Dorsky Museum (SUNY New Paltz, New Paltz, NY). Her work can be found in the collections of the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Brooklyn Museum; Cleveland Museum of Art; High Museum (Atlanta, GA); Kemper Museum, Kansas City; Metropolitan Museum of Art; MoMA; Whitney Museum of American Art; and Yale University Art Gallery, among many others.

In 2002-2003, Dill’s first museum retrospective, Lesley Dill: A Ten Year Survey, organized by the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, traveled to the CU Art Galleries, University of Colorado, Boulder; Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago; Contemporary Museum, Honolulu; Scottsdale Center for Contemporary Art; and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC.

In 2007, “Tremendous World,” an exhibition at the Neuberger Museum in Purchase, NY, featured three new large-scale works, two measuring 20 x 65 feet, some of Dill’s largest works to date.

In 2009, a major retrospective, “I Heard A Voice: The Art of Lesley Dill,” was on view at the Hunter Museum of American Art[5] The retrospective was organized by the Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, TN and George Adams Gallery. The show traveled through 2010 to Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA; Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, FL; Palmer Museum of Art, Penn State University, University Park, PA; and Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC.

In 2010, “Hell Hell Hell/Heaven Heaven Heaven: Encountering Sister Gertrude Morgan & Revelation,” was on view at the Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans, LA.[6]

In 2012, “Faith & the Devil,” opened at the George Adams Gallery in New York City. The show is currently traveling and has been exhibited at the Fine Arts Center Gallery at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR in 2014, the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences, Charleston, WV (2014), and the Weatherspoon Art Museum at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, NC (2014). The show continues to travel around the United States.

In October 2014, “Beautiful Dirt" opened at the Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA. [7]

In 2015, “Lesley Dill: Performance as Art” opened at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, TX. [8]

In 2015, "Lesley Dill: Large Photography" opened in the 315 Gallery in New York, NY. [9]

In 2016, “Myth and Menagerie: Lesley Dill” premiered Dill's new work at the Gershman Y Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. [10]

In April 2016, Durbin Gallery showed "Lesley Dill & Emily Dickinson: Poetry and Art” at Birmingham-Southern College, Birmingham, AL. [11]

In March 2016, Dill was the Artist-in-Residence at Fullerton College Art Gallery in Fullerton, CA.

Awards and grants[edit]

Dill has been the recipient of awards and grants from such institutions as the Joan Mitchell Foundation,[12] New York Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts and the Rockefeller Foundation. She was also the recipient of the Anonymous Was A Woman award in 2008,[13] a Center for Book Arts Honoree in 2010, a SGC International Lifetime Achievement in Printmaking Award in 2013, the Falk Visiting Artist Residency at the University of North Carolina at Greensborrow in 2014-15 and was named a Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 2017. [14]


  1. ^ Quoted on the exhibition website at the Hunter Museum of American Art, http://www.smith.edu/artmuseum/exhibitions/dill/
  2. ^ Divide Light, Montalvo Arts Center, Saratoga, CA., http://montalvoarts.org/programs/divide_light/
  3. ^ Barrilleaux, Rene Paul (2015). Lesley Dill: Performance as Art (1st ed.). San Antonio: McNay Art Museum. p. 25. ISBN 0916677591. 
  4. ^ http://www.newcamerataopera.org/divide-light
  5. ^ I Heard a Voice: The Art of Lesley Dill, Hunter Museum of American Art, Jan 17th - Apr 19th, 2009, http://www.huntermuseum.org/exhibition/7/i-heard-a-voicethe-art-of-lesley-dill/
  6. ^ "Hell Hell Hell Heaven Heaven Heaven". Arthur Roger Gallery. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  7. ^ Roger, Arthur. "Beautiful Dirt at Arthur Roger Gallery". Arthur Roger Gallery. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  8. ^ https://www.mcnayart.org/exhibitions/current/lesley-dill-performance-as-art
  9. ^ http://www.315gallery.com/lesley-dil-press-release
  10. ^ http://www.uarts.edu/events/2016/04/myth-menagerie-leslie-dill
  11. ^ http://www.bsc.edu/communications/news/2016/20160328-bigread.cfm
  12. ^ The Joan Mitchell Foundation, 1996 Grant Recipient, http://www.joanmitchellfoundation.org/P&S96.html
  13. ^ "Recipients 2008 Anonymous Was A Woman Awards". TheFeministArtProject. Retrieved 12 January 2016. 
  14. ^ The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation https://www.gf.org/fellows/all-fellows/lesley-dill/

External links[edit]