Are you a CBAA member and interested in being considered for our featured artist section? Email a link to your website or 3 images of your work to We will contact you with more information. 

Leslie Gates

Web Link:


Leslie Gates is an Associate Professor of Art Education at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses and supervises teacher candidates. In 2017, Leslie was named the Pennsylvania Art Educator of the Year. Leslie lives in Lancaster, PA with her husband and two children.


Leslie’s artist books and text-based sculptures deal with a range of issues related to sacred objects. Her work, which often explores the question of how something is rendered sacred, asks the viewer to consider the sacred in everyday lived experiences. Her books elevate experiences to sacred memory: discarded fuzzies from her daughter’s blanket memorialize the daily liturgy of putting children to bed, a tragic experience as a Title IX reporter yields work about the sacred nature of confidentiality, and an altered book calls into question sacred truths of teaching in the 1880s. More recently, Leslie has expanded notions of the sacred in work that addresses a number of contemporary conundrums.


Project Descriptions

Thames Treasure Chest
(3 photos)
Date: 2016
Medium: Found object, Handmade paper, spray paint, embroidery floss.
Statement: I taught a book arts class in Oxford, UK in 2016. The flat where I stayed was right beside the Thames river. This book documents the foliage that grew beside the Thames river. The treasure chest, which I found at a thrift store in Oxford, houses two very long accordions. I collected dried foliage, soaked the foliage with spray paint, and “printed” the foliage onto the long accordions.


Eye of the Shark (in response to Dorothy Cross)
(2 photos of my work, 1 photo of Dorothy Cross’ installation at Modern Art Oxford UK that was on exhibit as part of the KALEIDOSCOPE Transition #3 exhibit Date: 2016
Dimensions: 2” x 6” x 2”; Open 2” x 24” x 2”
Statement: I saw Dorothy Cross’ installation Eye of the Shark at Modern Art Oxford in 2016 and found myself taking many photographs of the textures and colors of the rusted bathtubs. I decided to make a work in response. Using only component parts of her exhibit documented through my photographs, I created a book to present the rust in a structure that lauded its beauty.


Families Separated and Detained at the Border
(3 photos)
Date: 2019
Dimensions: 6.5” x 5” x 2.15”; Open 12.5” x 5” x1”
Media: Paper, Vellum, Wire, Quick links, Plastic
Statement: This book features 10 cyanotypes that visually communicate messages about being detained and separated. The cyanotypes, presented in sheer vellum envelopes, are reminiscent of postcards that one might mail home. However, the haunting imagery suggests the story is not about a vacation, but rather, a desperate situation. The cyanotypes are flanked by a front and back cover using idealistic family imagery. The metal cage and quick links create a strong visual statement in an attempt to document the outrage, sadness, and helplessness the artist feels about thousands of asylum-seekers being held in inhumane conditions at the U.S. / Mexico border.


(2 photos)
Date: 2017
Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 2”
Media: Discarded library cards on wood
Statement: This work commemorates the transition from physical library cards to digital sign out systems. The overwhelming number of dates, peeled back to reveal dates in layers, asks the viewer to consider how the history of objects was recorded through human to human transactions over periods of time. This text-based book sculpture commemorates the many books that have gone before, many of which now with empty back pockets and new barcode tattoos.


Family Tree Reconsidered
(2 photos)
Date: 2016
Medium: Found paper, printed photographs, book cloth
Dimensions: 5” x 3.75” x .5”
Statement: Family Tree Reconsidered juxtaposes a family tree drawn on grid paper that I found on St. Aldate’s Street in Oxford, England with the text from the book Record of Discords (1984) that I found in a used bookstore nearby. The juxtaposition creates a new fictitious story about the family, with the names of characters revealed behind interactive elements in the book.


Talks on Teaching
(2 photos)
Date: 2015
Medium: Altered Book, Talks on Teaching (1883) by Francis W. Parker
Dimensions: 7” x 11.5” x 1.25”
Statement: Talks on Teaching explores historical ideas about teaching by turning a book inside out to expose some of the now-curious and contested ideas about how education could and should occur.


(3 photos)
Date: 2016
Medium: Altered Book, A Record of Discords (1894) by Curtis Yorke
Dimensions: 7.25” x 3.75” x .75”
Statement: The work Wonderful captures the physicality and transactions of a 120+ year old book, A Record of Discords (1984), and is titled “Wonderful” based on text found on the paper underneath the leather spine of the original book. Using only component parts of the original book, I recreated the book using everything except the pages/text. (Look for some of the original text from A Record of Discords in my work Family Tree Reconsidered.


Parenting Manual
(2 photos)
Date: 2018
Medium: Paper, waxed linen thread
Dimensions: 5” x 14” x 1”
Statement: This parenting manual is (not surprisingly) blank. The structure serves as a metaphor for the bounded nature of the parent/child relationship.


Mandatory Reporter Series (these are two works in a series of about 10 works)

Policy in Place
(1 photo)
Date: 2016
Medium: Found wood, paper, embroidery floss, ink
Statement: This work is part of my Mandatory Reporter series. In this work, I explored what happens when a policy becomes personal. The world we live in is full of policies that do not serve all people well. In this work, I manipulated Millersville University’s sexual misconduct policy to represent my personal experience with the policy in action.

A Confidential Situation
(3 photos)
Date: 2017
Dimensions: 2.5” x 4.5” x .5”; Open 14” x 4.5” x 1.5”
Media: Paper and Xerox
Statement: This work is part of my Mandatory Reporter series that helped me to process my experience as a mandatory reporter. The gravity of the situation paired with the requirement for the process to be confidential led me to manipulating my “report” by printing it on acetate and cutting each word apart, then printing random assemblages of those words using the scanning bed of a xerox machine. The artistic process of manipulating a confidential report allowed me to process my experience and provided a means for me to exhibit the report in public.


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software