Sunset skies and luscious lawns: Artist Stacy Leigh paints herself a dream reality
After finding her living situation wrecked with uncertainty, the New York-based artist manifested a more idyllic existence with her paintbrush.
- Olivia Hingley
- 12 April 2023
It’s widely understood that art can provide the best escape – a sentiment that sits at the core of Stacy’s Leigh’s series Escape to B-Roll. Being what she describes a “native New-Yorker to the core”, Stacy was born in the city and has lived there for 51 years since. “I'm accustomed to living on top of, underneath and in between myriad of people all with different goals and desires,” Stacy details. “I absolutely love the rich culture of living in a city and as an added bonus, I have learned compromise and respect for people and their different needs.”
But this was all thrown into disarray when Stacy encountered an “awful experience” at the hands of the board of directors of her condominium. With such uncertainty affecting her living circumstances, Stacy sought to immerse herself in a new reality – and so she set herself on painting one. “Creating quaint little free standing homes gave me a place to vicariously imagine a life where my comfort was not beholden to my neighbours' actions, or inaction,” Stacy explains. “Throughout the 10 paintings, I tried to focus on a fictitious town where life seems uncomplicated, yet rich with emotion. I used colour to drive the point.” The series name B-Roll directly references the idea of a ‘subplot’. A term Stacy explains to be predominantly used in news and documentary spaces, it refers to the extra roll of footage made surrounding the city or town that is pertinent to the storyline.
Growing up in Brooklyn, Stacy says that she was always attracted to the arts, but later found herself working as a stockbroker on Wall Street – a position Stacy found herself “miserable” in. It was only after her husband prompted her to quit that she pursued her creativity, turning first to painting before artist Richard Prince (who had previously discovered her photography on Instagram) saw her unfinished artworks and pushed her to pursue painting.
Being entirely self-taught is something that Stacy sees as being crucial to her unique style. Moreover, most of Stacy's paintings are predominately informed by memory as opposed to references; this is why some of her works appear “slightly off or skewed”, resulting in an alluringly uncanny sensation when viewing them. This can be seen in the slightly wonky perspectives, and the almost plasticine-looking texture of shrubs and greenery. Each painting throughout Escape to B-Roll, began with nothing but a vague idea of palette, and each house arose entirely organically. Humans – as a whole – are omitted, with objects and symbols instead taking their place.
That is, in fact, aside from the piece The Baked Clam, in which a billboard shows a figure promoting a nearby restaurant. The painting is one Stacy loves for the “subtle undertones” of story woven throughout. “The two cars each represent humans, crudely described by their coinciding licence plates as ‘STUD’ and ‘BUSTEE’. But are they destined to meet? I wondered that to myself as I created that painting. I imagined they are soulmates and will cross paths at the Baked Clam,” Stacy recalls.
While Stacy is so understanding of her narrative motives, she understands that, most of the time, none of these are immediately apparent to the viewer. Instead, audiences fill the gaps with their own “internal language”. Stacy reflects: “I generally don't divulge my intentions, but it feels good to explain the work a little more, cathartic even.” But overall, what she does hope is that the series may induce some certain feelings, perhaps those of “calm”, “nostalgia” and maybe even a sense of “escapism”.
Escape to B-roll is now exhibiting at WOAW Gallery in Hong Kong until 19 April.
Stacy Leigh: The baked clam (Copyright © Stacy Leigh, 2023)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.