CVA Gallery

In the Gallery:

Jess Leo: past/presence(s)

November 18 – December 13, 2019

Artist’s talk Thursday, December 5th at 11:30 am, with opening reception 5-7 pm.

Body, 2019, Graphite on Paper, 26” x 40”
Body, 2019, Graphite on Paper, 26” x 40”
Construct, (detail), Graphite on Paper, 72" x 360"
Construct, (detail), Graphite on Paper, 72" x 360"
Home, 2018, Graphite on Paper, 24” x 38 ½ ”
Home, 2018, Graphite on Paper, 24” x 38 ½ ”

The CVA Gallery presents an exhibition of the work of artist Jess Leo.

Jess Leo, born 1988, was raised by her father in the suburbs of New Jersey. At a young age, Leo experienced a painful loss after her mother’s passing. As a way of understanding the fragility of the world around her Leo began to draw. Drawing was and remains an important medium for her as she explores the themes of grief, trauma, and the isolation she felt as a result of her mother’s absence.

Leo’s large-scale drawings are hatched together with interweaving lines that form solid and seemingly recognizable structures. These structures are influenced from her recollections of home as well as her interactions among familiar domestic objects during a time of grief. Each object is a personal narrative, arranged in a way to activate a quite environment for contemplation.   Of her process Leo says  “Drafting with a sculptural approach, my work is both intimate and monumental as it focuses on domestic objects and architecture. By utilizing the drawing medium I am able to achieve subtle variations of tone. I work with only an H pencil to gradually build up lines over time. The H pencil constrains the tonal range of the drawings, which is representative of a prolonged melancholic state associated with traumatic loss. The work is physical as I continuously build marks on a large format in search of what has been lost. These seemingly detached portrayals become both abstract and sentimental. The negative spaces become quiet, existing somewhere between a dreamlike state and reality.  Motionless and fixed in space, they become totems capable of evoking personal histories.”

Further images of Leo’s work can be viewed at

Gallery hours during exhibition:

Mondays and Tuesdays: 1:00 – 4:00
Wednesdays: 10:00 – 12:00
Thursdays and Fridays: 1:00 – 4:00
all other times by appointment

Please direct all questions to:

Amy Faris, Gallery Coordinator