Undercurrents: The Oklahoma Sage
Leslie Anne Martin
Born and raised in rural Oklahoma, Leslie Anne Martin’s work explores social structure and perception in her region, as well as weather phenomena and its relation to landscape and culture. Martin earned her MFA in sculpture from the University of New Mexico and her BFA in sculpture and BS in design, housing and merchandising from Oklahoma State University. Martin has an impressive exhibition history and has experience in the design field, creating commissioned work and collaborating with industry professionals. In 2016, she created a sculpture in collaboration with Oklahomans in all 77 counties. This piece, Weathering Oklahoma, is displayed at the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
Martin’s current endeavors include research of the female archetypes and how characteristics of each phase parallel natural occurrence and the region of the individual. Currently, the state of Oklahoma is Martin’s main focus. She explores “old wives tales,” homeopathic remedies, and farmer’s decisions based on centuries old techniques. Martin’s research in plant and animal folklore, vulgar remedies, and cultural superstition has fueled her work. Simultaneously, she looks inward as to how this information has been absorbed and reflected in her life.
Earth to Earth is one of many works in this exhibition. The cupped hands of three generations of Oklahoma women are cast in plaster, positioned in a circular formation. The hands support soil and an uprooted lilac seedling, the daughter of a plant that had come from the garden of the great-grandmother of this family circle. The hands stretch the lilac to the sky, symbolizing this elder has left this earth and transitioned to another.
Petals, leaves, and stems are displayed alongside personal accounts of homeopathic remedies families have passed down through generations. Stories laced with superstition and symbolism are voiced. Women of all ages communicate their experiences growing up in Oklahoma. If one has had the privilege to be raised under the care of their grandmother, they may be unaware of the amount of information that has been interwined within them. This exhibition is a celebration of the importance of female lineage and provides female elders the spotlight and
recognition they deserve.