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Check Out Leslie Gomez-Gonzalez’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leslie Gomez-Gonzalez.

Hi Leslie, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was born in New York City and raised in Miami – in Kendall. I’ve always been drawn to experimentation and I would have these obsessive phases every time I came across something new as a kid. I loved drawing, painting, writing poetry and stories, sewing, and I absolutely loved working with paper.

Through most of High School, I was in a Biomedical program and was really into being a doctor or a nurse. I liked learning about the body and how it works and how to take care of it. I took AP Biology in the 10th grade and was then made very much aware of how much I didn’t want to delve any further into the field of science as a medical professional. I was also really exhausted throughout high school. I was doing really well in school, but I was so radically stressed all the time and was struggling a lot with my health and mental health. I think it was my Junior Year that I started going to acupuncture and going to art club, which manifested a major shift in my interests.

I got my BFA at FIU, where I found myself leaning heavily into photography (both black & white film and digital), drawing and ceramics. I graduated in the Fall of 2020. Since then, I’ve continued to make my work, I’ve been learning how to make ceramic vessels on the wheel, and I completed my first residency at Chautauqua Visual Arts, which was incredible and has certainly led to a redirection in what I’m looking for in my future. I’ve been working part-time, rediscovering my community and connecting, and I have taken this time to rest and learn how to better take care of myself. It’s been really wonderful and I’m very grateful for this life and the people I’m surrounded by.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Thankfully for the most part, I’ve been given a life surrounded by lots of love and support and I’m really grateful for that. I’ve only really struggled with my health and mental health, and that is a healing process that is ongoing.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Materially, my practice mainly uses clay, photography and video. Sometimes drawing. Over the last two years, I’ve been developing this practice that investigates routines that maintain the body-such as bathing, dressing, menstruation, eating, etc. I’m interested in these routines as they may coexist as ritual and as expectations and as they define the way we regard and care for our bodies. I use my body, specifically, because I am working from my own personal experiences. Each medium is considered very intentionally. With clay, I’ve isolated materials such as kaolin, redart, and bentonite because they are ingredients that function as healing agents and have numerous and fascinating relationships to the body besides their literal physical embodiment. Clay’s regenerative nature has influenced the way I approach all of my other mediums, enabling me to further explore the dynamic between the fragility, resilience, and memory of the body with photography and video, considering them as tangible and malleable objects as well. I’ve also started to explore how regeneration exists within my own family- tracing the patterns and memory from my relationships. I’m excited by the way my work is always in flux. A “finished” work is more of a version, a possibility, an extension… There is always the possibility for being recontextualized or for the materials to be repurposed. I collect every single part of the process. I have a body of clay works with kaolin EPK, the majority of which is unfired and has been reclaimed over and over again. Some of the work only exists as photographs and video. I keep everything; the water, the clay, the surfaces it left marks on…it all holds significance for me. Nothing is waste.

What does success mean to you?
Personally, besides having the sufficient funds and space to facilitate my practice, success to me is cultivating a community that is caring and supportive; To exist and work to facilitate and nurture a symbiotic ecosystem. As a queer, Afro-Latinx woman, this dynamic is incredibly important to me. It is imperative to be able to contribute to and create supportive spaces for vulnerable conversations, as they also stem from the work in my practice, where what may be considered taboo themes can be addressed openly and that these conversations productively lead to understanding and connection.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
The photo of me was taken by Lauryn Lawrence (IG: @archivesbylauryn)

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