Willow, Weep For Me from Leisa Rich 2016 solo show “grownupland”
Leisa Rich (1978)
The tactile and visual world comforted me during a time when I couldn’t hear. As a young child I faced several medical issues including deafness. I recall sitting in a hospital bed, dressing my Barbie doll in satin and lace dresses my mother had made. I finger painted in silence in the art room. In 1965 my family took me to Disneyland to celebrate my release from the hospital. The "It's A Small World" ride made a lasting impact. The brilliant colors, animated atmosphere, and tinny music captured my imagination. Saturdays were spent at work with Dad. Wires, bolts, and metal became diamond tiaras and bracelets with which to adorn myself. An electrical spool cable table and stools my Dad set up inside the inner sanctuary of the branches of an enormous weeping willow tree in our back yard became the perfect setting to host private tea parties for my dolls and teddy bears. I felt safe within its enveloping branches, and was soothed by its rustling sounds. I like to transport people from the stresses inherent to being human today into a unique world that suspends reality for a brief time, in order that we might be carefree children again, playing together.
This work is featured as part of Future Former: An Exhibition of Alumni Work. This exhibition honors the creative work and careers of all Stamps School alumni, creates an aspirational connection between generations of U-M artists and designers and current Stamps students, and inspires reflection during the university's Bicentennial year.