Engage Your Senses

Apr 8, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Arts & Entertainment, Molly Eide Marquez

by Molly Eide Marquez

Art is not meant to be purely visual; it should engage all of your senses. At least, this is the mission of Fresno artist, Ann Leedy.

Ann has always been an admirer of beautiful things, but didn’t truly understand her passion for art until adulthood. As a child, she enjoyed reading, writing, and drawing, and attended the California Guild of Arts and Crafts. Art was always a part of her life, but her true fervor for creating came with more of life’s unexpected experiences.

After finding herself working in Fresno Unified as a braille transcriber for visually impaired students, Ann discovered ways of incorporating art into her students’ lives. Through creative projects like using paper, crayons, and an embossing tool, Ann and her students discovered a love and appreciation of different textures. This was the beginning of Ann’s ability to engage all of the senses, creating an experience with her art.

From Ann Leedy’s November 2022 show

Fast forward several years. Ann’s children have grown and have children of their own. In her retirement, she finds herself with more free time and re-engages with her passion for creating. Specifically, Ann began to get to know abstract pastel really well and found herself with a new favorite medium.

This particular medium speaks to Ann because it has the ability to grow, change, and morph as she works. It is her goal to create art that leaves something to the imagination. She wants the viewer to interpret the gesture of the object she features, not just the object itself. “I think of my art as a coalescence of emotions, ideas, experiences, and what I see. It’s a way of being attentive to sensory things – music, anything like that.” says Ann.

More of Ann’s art from November show

As a member of the Fig Tree Gallery in Fresno, the longest-running, member-sponsored art gallery in California, Ann’s art is often on display. Her most recent show was this past November, and featured twenty-seven large pieces created using pastels and watercolors. “Being able to layer the colors and really dig your fingers into [the chalk] is a really visceral experience,” shared Ann. One of her favorite pieces that was featured in this show, The Flower Thief, was an homage to her self-proclaimed status as a flower thief. “Being a flower thief is not a criminal act, but taking something that doesn’t belong to you has ramifications,” expressed Ann. The Flower Thief series tells a story of a flower thief who marries a flamenco dancer, and how the two of them steal flowers. The story continues with the idea of “deflowering” in terms of stealing and human trafficking, and ultimately with the preciousness of life. Inspired by the natural life cycle of flowers, how they grow and change, and eventually decay and return to the earth, Ann was especially proud of this series.

More of Ann’s art from November show

Ann is currently preparing for an exhibit in 2024 alongside fellow artists turned friends, Anne Scheid, Kathy Wosika, and Shannon Bickford. This show is aptly named Four Voices, and will feature the connection of written words via Haiku poems with visual images.

This new endeavor is especially meaningful to Ann. The relationships that she has built through her Fig Tree membership have brought her art to life, and helped bring her to life as well. As Ann shared, “Art makes me feel more connected to what I’m experiencing. It heightens my awareness. I read this poem that said at the end, she wants to be remembered not as a guest of life, but a resident, residing in life. That’s what I want to be too! Not just an observer in a remote way, but taking part.”

To learn more about Ann Leedy, visit: annleedy.art
To learn more about Fig Tree Gallery, visit: figtreegallery.us

Check other local arts & entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section. You can also find more theatre coming up on KRL’s Local Theatre event page.

Molly is a Central Valley native, where she and her family live, work, and play. A graduate of CSU Fresno, she is actively involved in the local community and is proud to lift up those around her, shining light on the many wonderful people and organizations that make the Central Valley such a great place to live.


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