Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl

In preparing for the Artist's solo exhibition, Leslie Adams: Drawn from Life, at the Toledo Museum of Art, she studied the works intended for the coinciding show, Manet: Portraying Life, and was inspired by Portrait of Eva Gonzales, the ubiquitous image of an artist at her easel. Manet depicted his subject with the traditional attributes - brushes, mahlstick, easel, and palette; but imagining a contemporary self-portrait in that manner was difficult. Thus, the Artist chose to portray herself as a child, finding the perfect doppelganger in Reagan, an aspiring young actress and a student at the prestigious Toledo School for the Arts.

In a statement, the Artist writes, "Who is this child? This child from suburban Middle America. This child whose only goal was to win a scholarship to Art Instruction Schools in hope of pursuing her artistic dream. This child with fierce determination, who copied Winky, the Boxer, and Lucky - the "Draw Me" heads from matchbook covers and magazines that have been a staple in American Pop culture since 1914. This child of the 60s and 70s, in madras plaid, in front of her first easel. It’s me. And, I am still at my easel. No, I didn’t win that prize as a child, but the Warhol Scholarship I won to study classical drawing at the New York Academy of Art, more than made up for my earlier disappointment. So, with a bit of irony, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl” tells the story of my education, weaving classical and old master references with a healthy dash of 20th and 21st century pop culture. This portrait, however personal, is also a reminder that we all share in the universality of childhood dreams and aspirations."


The Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, Ohio; Leslie Adams: Drawn from Life

Portrait Society of America, Atlanta, Georgia, 15th Annual International Portrait Competition Exhibition

Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, 78th Annual National Midyear Exhibition

Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ArtPrize Nine


William F. Draper Grand Prize, Portrait Society of America