Leslie Horan Simon
- New Works 2021 - 2023
- Rare Wool Works 2018-2020
- Felt Works, 2016 - 2018
- Videos (6)
- For the Wild Birds
- Rare Wool Source List
- About > Statement
I make wool felt using a technique called needle-felting. I choose this technique because it makes a lofty felt that has a matte finish with lots of texture I can cut, layer, sew and color. I source the many wools I use from small farms and individual shepherds from around the world. I am particularly interested in supporting individuals who raise and protect those sheep breeds that are rare and endangered. They do this to help to preserve the biodiversity of our natural world, the source of most of my inspiration and imagery.
In my own small way, I use these wools to support those people and to increase awareness of the issue of biodiversity. I also use these fibers to inspire others to live their lives in more thoughtful and sustainable ways. From the images I create to the materials and the methods I use, my intention is to create beautiful thoughtful art that will bring joy and awareness about the natural world. I don’t know anyone who isn’t concerned with the ways in which we humans are affecting the natural world so I have developed my art to be part of a discussion about this matter as nothing else is as important me.
The imagery in my work has changed over the past decades but the natural world has always been my focus. Before I began working with wool I was a painter focusing on the landscapes of the east end of Long Island and Central Park in NYC. I had success during these years and was represented by the Fischbach Gallery in NYC, where I had solo and group exhibitions and sales but the artist that I was then, in 2008 was on the verge of a profound life change. I began working with wool, starting as a knitter. It was only a short time before I began learning where the yarn came from and how it was processed and dyed. The journey from using commercial knitting yarn to making my own handspun from raw wool I sourced locally was underway.
My early work with wool focused on experimenting with knitted and fulled felts that I made, cut up and attached to a backing and each other by needle-felting and hand sewing to create wall art, much like a painting. I continued experimenting and soon discovered the Fiber Sourcebook where I learned about rare and endangered breeds of sheep. The next step was to establish relationships with people who raised those sheep and whose concerns were in line with mine. As I was able to get more of the unusual wools to experiment with, I began developing a blending technique where I used dyed fiber blended with natural fibers to bring a subtle heather color to my work. The next crucial phase came as I began working with a Lexi Feltloom. The loom enabled me to create 36” wide sheets of felt of any length or thickness and soon my work began to grow in scale.
In 2021, during the pandemic, my husband and I bought a home in Cold Spring, NY where I was, once again able to live close to nature all year round. The movie allowed me to have a studio space where I am able to create large multi paneled pieces. Living in the woods near the Hudson River has had a profound affect on me as an artist. I am once again keenly aware of the early part of my life when I roamed through the woods, followed streams and experienced those precious moments that formed me and started my love of nature, art, and learning.
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