Kentucky Women: Alma Wallace Lesch : Official Travel Source

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May 19th
recurring event

Kentucky Women: Alma Wallace Lesch

  • Location: Speed Art Museum, The
  • 2035 South Third St.
  • Louisville, Kentucky 40208

Kentucky Women: Alma Wallace Lesch

Kentucky Women: Alma Wallace Lesch explores the wide-ranging, fiber-based artistic practice of Alma Wallace Lesch (1917-1999) through the themes that defined her work: ruminations on place, memory, nature, faith, female identity, and creative experimentation. The exhibition features significant works by the artist from the Speed’s collection, including a massive nine-foot-tall by fifteen-foot-wide wall hanging, Full Bloom (1966), originally created as commission for Louisville’s former First Lincoln National Bank. Other exceptional pieces come from the holdings of the University of Louisville and from a private collection. 

Born in western Kentucky’s McCracken County, Lesch learned as a child the familiar needle arts of quilting, embroidery, and sewing. Working as a professional fiber artist beginning in the 1960s, she took these traditional skills, as well as those of weaving and vegetable dyeing, and transformed them to create complex, richly layered compositions that quickly gained her national and international recognition. 

Lesch became especially well-known for her collaged fabric portraits. Making innovative use of found and reworked materials, she created faceless, abstracted compositions that frequently centered women as strong, independent figures within the small-town life familiar to Lesch. Her explorations of female identity were only one aspect of her continual experimentation; throughout the works in the exhibition, one experiences her endlessly creative combinations of pattern, texture, and color. 

Looking back, Lesch’s use of traditional needle skills and found materials—both of which reimagined techniques historically tied to women and the home—along with her frequent explorations of female subjects need to be viewed collectively as feminist actions. Indeed, Lesch was among a group of women artists working in fiber who, in the 1960s and early 1970s, foreshadowed what was soon to come: the artistic practices of women who adapted traditional fiber methods to construct explicitly feminist aesthetic and theoretical alternatives to the male-dominated art world. 

Lesch’s further contributions to art and artists came through her role as a lifelong educator. Beginning as an elementary school teacher, she returned to college in her forties to receive an M.Ed. at the University of Louisville with a focus on fiber. Afterward, she taught at the late Louisville School of Art from 1961 to 1978 and at the University of Louisville from 1975 to 1982. 

Upcoming Dates For This Event:

  • Thursday, September 21
  • Friday, September 22
  • Saturday, September 23
  • Sunday, September 24
  • Thursday, September 28
  • Friday, September 29
  • Saturday, September 30
  • Sunday, October 1
  • Thursday, October 5
  • Friday, October 6
  • Saturday, October 7
  • Sunday, October 8
  • Thursday, October 12
  • Friday, October 13
  • Saturday, October 14
  • Sunday, October 15
  • Thursday, October 19
  • Friday, October 20
  • Saturday, October 21
  • Sunday, October 22
  • Thursday, October 26
  • Friday, October 27
  • Saturday, October 28
  • Sunday, October 29

Speed Art Museum

Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum invites and inspires diverse audiences to experience the...