Leslie Iwai (Middleton) creates artwork inhabiting the space between architecture, sculpture, performance and experience. Educated in mathematics, science, and architecture, her conceptually-based artwork forms as she explores associations found through research, discussion, meditation, metaphor and observation. Her work provokes wonder at the depth and beauty of connections that can be contained in form, material and spirit. Leslie’s artistic process explores underlying design and geometry found within diverse materials; from concrete to feathers, fibers to wax.
A native Nebraskan, Iwai returned to her Nebraska roots and began her art practice in 2001 there after completing a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Chemistry from Wayne State College and a Master of Architecture degree at Virginia Tech. She won her first public art commission for her sculptural work “Sounding Stones” in Omaha, Nebraska in 2002. After travels to Sierra Leone and Romania, Iwai’s art took a new direction yielding solo exhibits including, “Chambers: Gleaning in Cracks of Light” at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, “Fee! Fie! Foe! Fum!” at the Museum of Nebraska Art, and “Timekeeper: Anachronism & Chrysalis” at Briar Cliff College. In 2010, Leslie won the Omaha Entertainment and Art Award for the Best Visual Artist and Best New Media Artist for her solo exhibit “Holding My Horses” at the Florence Mill Art Loft. Since moving to Wisconsin in 2011, Iwai has been a part of several group and solo exhibitions including “Be: Longing” (Overture Center for the Arts, Madison) and “Interstitial Garden” (Monroe Art Center) and the national traveling exhibits, “Come to the Table” through CIVA and “The Residents” through Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts.
As a 2015 invited artist in residence at AIR Serenbe near Atlanata, Georgia, Iwai embarked on a new body of work inspired by a groundbreaking discovery in cellular division at the Carbone Cancer Research Center at the University of Wisconsin. The form, symmetry, and resilience of cellular division resonated with Iwai’s architectural and creative inspirations in the natural world and human spirit.