Karen Leslie’s creative path to three dimensional sculptures of Wearable Art began on the stage.
Karen is a former professional Adagio artist and longtime Las Vegas resident. She performed extensively worldwide, traveling to numerous countries and embracing many forms of international art. In 1980 she began designing her own costumes for the stage and over the years has mastered the art of detailed bead and crystal work. Upon retiring from performing in 2000, she began a new career, creating Art to Wear in a variety of venues.
For the past ten years, her one of a kind jewelry creations have won numerous International Design awards. This includes Swarovski design awards and publications in fashion and trade publications as well as recognition by the prestigious Bead Dreams Competition. This international design competition attracts thousands of designers annually. Karen’s “Tahitian Queen” reached the finals in the 2009 competition. Shortly afterward she was awarded ”Best in Show” artist in the 2009 Boulder City Art in the Park, out of over 350 participating, juried artists.
She says she gets her design ideas from nature. “My passion for the natural beauty of South Pacific shells and pearls as well as the sparkle and elegance of Swarovski crystals has inspired me to create an eclectic and original variety of original pieces. My pieces are frequently very organic in appearance.“
Over the past eight years Karen has worked closely with Cirque du Soleil artists in a variety of theatrical fashion shoots, lending her creativity to specifically design and create jewelry, accessories and objects of art for each project. This led her to ultimately branch out in a new direction, creating Objects of Art in the form of Swarovski crystal sculptures and three dimensional Sculptures of Wearable Art.
This presented a challenge, according to Karen. “The original concept during one photo shoot was to create a dark yet beautiful Maleficent with our model. So I started with black lace and deep teal blue crystals and pearls to create a spider web effect. The designs created for the shoot consisted of a black lace necklace embellished with hundreds of pearls and crystals, and a pearl encrusted lace crown adorned with a set of horns made of lace and black feathers.
When gallery curator, Barry Jacobson saw a photograph of the model wearing the Maleficent, a lively discussion followed on how to present the necklace and headpiece as an art piece for the Gallery. That conversation sparked the concept of Wearable Art sculpture.
“The effect on the model was so dramatic it inspired me to recreate the look on a three dimensional female sculpture. The goal was to faithfully recreate the image of the original model with intricate airbrushing and modify the lace necklace and headpiece to recreate the effect achieved in the original shoot.”
The “Maleficent” is the first in a series of three pieces inspired by recent shoots. It was the first to be completed and on display at the gallery of Music and Art.
The second, “Fantasia”, is a tropically themed piece. It was also inspired by a theatrical fashion shoot in 2012. The piece is now on display in the Gallery, along with the original fashion shoot photograph of the model, Cirque performer Sheila Joy Burford, wearing the necklace, earrings and feathered headpiece featured in the sculpture.
“Fantasia” is, in part, a collaborative effort,” Karen explained. “Lani McCusker contributed her impressive artistic talent with intricate airbrushing of the face and torso to create the desired sun-kissed glow gracing the sculpture. Siobian Jones collaborated with me on the hairstyle design, bringing life to my vision of Sheila Joy taking a windswept walk on the beach. I love collaborating with other individuals when a creation has multiple facets and requires artistic expertise in several genres of art.”
Karen is working on her third wearable art sculpture. “It will take some time, but I expect it to be the most creative yet.”
She offers commissioned custom wearable art designed to the specifications and desires of each individual client. Several of her most prestigious award winning designs will be on display in the Gallery soon. My motto is: “If you can imagine it, I will create it for you.”