Daily American Republic, Poplar Bluff, Missouri
February 24, 2008

By Tim Krakowiak, staff writer

Poplar Bluff native Leslie Pearson recently had a book published that features a collection of her artwork.

The 146-page, full-color book of reproductions, photographs, and journal entries is titled, "Off the Diving Board, The Narrative Paintings of Leslie Pearson." It was made possible through a regional artist project grant from the North Carolina Arts Council.

Freedom and femininity are recurring themes in Pearson's mixed-media artwork, which are primarily done in oil and acrylic paint, combined with punchy phrases to provoke thought.

"Every viewer brings their own experiences to artwork when they see it and usually makes a conscious effort to find meaning," Pearson wrote in the introduction of her book. "I use text to inject tone and voice to a piece, not to offer an explanation."

Pearson was a 1994 graduate of Poplar Bluff High School. She went on to complete the art program at Three Rivers Community College and studied fine arts at Southeast Missouri State University.

Today Pearson works from her studio, operates the Pearson Gallery, and teaches art at Fayetteville Christian School in North Carolina.

The title of her book comes from an old inside joke between the artist and her father, the late Larry Stucker, she explained. She was preparing her portfolio to present to future college professors when she decided to create an abstract painting to add to the mix.

Pearson said, "After working on it for a while I showed it to (my father) and with dry sarcasm he said, 'Now stick a sponge on it and call it off the diving board. I'm sure they'll love it.'" She incorporated a sponge, gave it the title and sure enough, her father knew her best, because the teachers found the symbolism becoming of her work, she said.

"Hey, I thought it was pretty good too," said Pearson. "So we always had a laugh about it."

To view Pearson's narrative paintings, visit www.lesliekpearson.com. To purchase the book, go to www.lesliepearson.blogspot.com.