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Through her art, Leslie Barlow embraces the complexities of intimacy and belonging, often through the lens of her experiences as a mixed race person deeply committed to her lifelong community of Minneapolis. Primarily an oil painter, her figurative works often capture friends, family, and community members at a scale at or exceeding life-sized. “I'm interested in the way that race is entangled with family, friendship, and romantic relationships,” she states, noting that “it's the way we move through and understand ourselves in these relationships that is most intriguing to me.” Her practice as a studio artist is in close conversation with her work as a cultural organizer, educator, public artist, and catalyst for emerging artists of color. She’s a founding member of Creatives After Curfew, a collective of mural artists formed in response to the police killing of George Floyd; an instructor at the University of Minnesota; and founder of Studio 400, an incubator and studio program for BIPOC artists.

Barlow holds a BFA from the University of Wisconsin–Stout and an MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art. The recipient of numerous awards and grants including the 2021 Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship, the McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship, and a 20/20 Springboard Fellowship (both 2019), her work has been featured in group and solo exhibitions at the International Center for Photography, the Rochester Art Center, Mia (the Minneapolis Institute of Art), and Public Functionary, among others. Her solo exhibition Leslie Barlow: Within, Between, and Beyond, exploring identity and belonging through portraits in oil and video of 16 Twin Cities people who identify as mixed-race, multiracial, or as transracial adoptees, is currently on view through October 31, 2021, at the Minneapolis Institute of Art.