Not many artists are able to push beyond the boundaries as Leslie Bock does. She molds, weaves and sculpts basic art materials into something beyond what most art fanatics will initially recognize as “art” today.
Leslie Bock has been crafting ceramics for the past three years and in her recent piece, titled “1350 Hours, Conservatively,” is being featured at the Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition in the Fine Arts Gallery. Bock’s master thesis project was inspired by the stretch of land along Hwy 280 from San Jose to San Francisco, which she drives often.
Having observed the landscape on her drives to the studio she was able to recreate it in her work, which took approximately for 1350 hours to finish. “There’s a specialness and uniqueness to that landscape because you don’t see too much human interaction,” said Bock.
The piece is made up of 100 different parts from blocks of clay. Each piece took about one minute to craft and the whole project is made up of about 4,000 lbs. of clay. The “landscape” is black and white, lying on the floor, with loops to give the illusion of it slowing building up into small hills of what Bock observed every day on her drive to the studio.
Since Bock’s high school years, Silicon Valley, once known as the “valley of the hearts’ delight” before it was reconstructed into the tech community it is known as today, no longer has the farm life of open fields and orchards surrounding it.
According to Mark Johnson, the gallery director, students pursuing their degree are invited to show twice in the Fine Arts Gallery, once in the fall in the Stillwell Exhibition and then their final thesis project in the spring, as a part of their study.
Having already received her B.A. in studio art with a minor in art history from Santa Clara University, Bock wanted to still be a part of the Bay Area art scene, so she came to SF State to pursue her art career.
Since making the move, Bock has worked with a number of faculty members, including Jeff Downing, a ceramics professor, who has been her mentor since she started in the ceramics program.
Bock admits she never gave herself the freedom to pursue art until college. Initially drawn to math and science, she applies the critical thinking she received from her studies in college to the way she does her art. She wants to contribute to art by working beyond the boundaries.
After moving from the South Bay to the North Bay, the change in pace was beneficial because the art scene is different. “It offers a more metropolitan and cosmopolitan – like urban – take on the art world (and) access to art galleries,” said Bock.
Downing has known Bock for the past three years while studying in the ceramics department, and has seen her grow from being a figurative artist, making small pieces, to being an abstract artist, making large pieces.
As well as being one of the hardest working students Downing has worked with over the past 10 years, “She’s a pretty amazing person,” said Downing. Bock is also a mentor to the undergrad students in the ceramics department.
Bock plans to graduate this spring and ultimately be a professional artist and continue to contribute to the art world with what she has learned here at SF State. Bock’s work will be on display until Saturday, May 10, then reinstalled on May 17 at the Root Division on South Van Ness.