Leslie Barlow – exploring issues of multicultural identities

I create life-size oil paintings that use the figure to explore issues of multiculturalism,
identity, representation, and race. My work is created in response to my own conflicting
feelings of belonging as a woman of mixed-race, which are compounded by the limited
representation of diverse narratives by and of people of color in art history and popular
culture. In early 2017 I explored the importance of visual representation of diverse family
narratives in the solo exhibition Loving; desiring to draw attention to the Loving v.
Virginia supreme court case’s 50th anniversary, and highlighting Minnesotan families as
the painting subjects. It is important to increase the visual representation of multiracial
realities in our cultural institutions. I use my artwork as a vehicle to talk about race with
complexity and nuance, and from a place of vulnerability and personal experience. With
this work, my desire was to facilitate conversations with Minnesotans that would bring to
the forefront typically marginalized stories and experiences. The invisibility of multiracial
realities has sent an unhealthy and inaccurate message to people and families with
these lived experiences and has impacted the way American people perceive family
normalcy and belonging. With a reported 1 in 10 Minnesotan marriages being interracial
(and growing), I see the urgency in shining light on diverse experiences of mixed people
and families, as well as putting forward stories that can both unite us and deepen our
analysis of the state of racial issues in this world.

Leslie Barlow is a practicing artist living and working in Minneapolis, MN.
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, people in her
community, and personal experiences, to reflect the subtle and not-so- subtle
integrations of these ideas into individual lives and identities. Barlow received her
BFA in 2011 from the University of Wisconsin- Stout and her MFA in 2016 from
the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.