As part of her development as an artist, Leslie writes, "As a child, the Toledo Museum of Art was my playground. Within its walls, amongst its impressive collection and exceptional treasures, I was given the rare and extraordinary privilege of beginning my formal art education. It was the Museum that opened my eyes to a world of appreciation for fine art. Like many children before and since, I spent countless hours in the galleries creating memories that continue to influence my life and work. I was introduced to and challenged, at an early age, to study great masterpieces. I was taught to be curious. I was encouraged to dream."
Indeed, Ms. Adams followed her dream and in 1990 won the International Collegiate Competition in Figurative Drawing, sponsored by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. She was awarded the Grand Prize, a full tuition scholarship, which enabled her to attend the prestigious New York Academy of Art.
Since earning her Master of Fine Arts degree from the Academy, Ms. Adams has established herself as an eminent Ohio artist. She has been commissioned to paint more than a dozen official portraits for the State of Ohio. In addition to painting the most recent official gubernatorial portraits, she has portrayed many leaders of the Ohio State Senate, House of Representatives and the Supreme Court of Ohio. Leslie has also received commissions from respected universities, corporations, and institutions throughout the United States.
The recent years have characterized a significant turning point in Adams' already successful career. Her major solo exhibition, Leslie Adams, Drawn from Life, part of the Toledo Museum of Art's 2012 Fall Season of Portraiture, was a dream come true and received both critical and public acclaim. As the exhibition was drawing to a close, greater recognition was soon to follow. Adams was one of only forty-eight artists in the United States whose work was selected for inclusion in the celebrated 2013 Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition at the Smithsonian Institution's National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. That same year, her work, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl, was awarded the William F. Draper Grand Prize in the Portrait Society of America's 15th Annual International Portrait Competition - their highest honor bestowed upon an artist and the first of its kind given to a drawing.
Paintings and drawings by Leslie Adams are consistently included and garner awards in prestigious national and international group exhibitions. Her work was part of a groundbreaking exhibition at the Butler Institute of American Art, Inspiring Figures, an Exhibit Celebrating American Women in Figurative Art. This collection of works explored the distinctive influence of female artists and their continued importance in the development of American figurative art and portraiture. As well as the abovementioned recognition, Adams works have received a multitude of awards from institutions including the Art Renewal Center, the National Arts Club, and American Society of Portrait Artists Foundation.
Also of note, Ms. Adams has been honored for her numerous civic contributions. Previously recognized as a Distinguished Citizen of Ohio by the Ohio Senate 123rd General Assembly, Leslie, as a 2014 YWCA Milestones Honoree in the Arts, received proclamations from, among other civic institutions, the Ohio Governor's office, the Ohio Senate and House of Representatives, and the United States Congress.
Throughout her life, Leslie has worked tirelessly to inspire the hearts and minds of children to pursue their dreams. Her upcoming solo exhibition, Leslie Adams, The Measure of a Life, at the Butler Institute of American Art, celebrates the hope, aspirations, and dreams within each of us. Although always concentrating on exciting new works and projects, including a book on the life of Willa B. Brown with the author, Rhonda Sewell, Leslie continues to welcome both public and private commissions.
Today, Leslie Adams has gained prominence amongst contemporary figurative artists. She has devoted her entire career to observing, interpreting and portraying the human figure through art. Her arrestingly conceived narrative portraiture captures the essence of her subjects by revealing both the attributes and complexities of their individual character, and the universal transcendent dignity and beauty of life and the human condition.
"As that little girl in the Toledo Museum of Art, I dreamt of becoming an artist."
Leslie Adams continues to dream.