Manchester University
Oak Leaves

April 21, 2017

Leslee Bottorff Art 2

Oil painting by Leslee Bottorff

Transfer Art Student Exhibits Joyful Work

Virginia Rendler 

If you’ve been in Winger in the past weeks, you may have noticed a brilliantly-colored and varied display of joyful works. These were the pieces by Leslee Bottorff, transfer art student from the University of Tennessee Bachelor of Fine Arts program in Knoxville.
Bottorff transferred to Manchester in the fall of 2016. “My husband got a call that North Manchester needed a chairman for the pharmacy department, and I was reluctant to move, but it happened,” Bottorff said. “So I took a year off from Tennessee to get the farm ready to sell, which was hard at my age, to take a year off.”
Bottorff is enjoying her experience in the Manchester community so far. “Manchester has been amazing,” she said. “I started in the fall, and I had worked hard at UT and through my other college experience, but they were able to get everything transferred over, and they gave me an enormous amount of space.
“From the very first time I stepped on the campus, they’ve been accommodating, joyful, bending over backwards,” she continued. “It’s been a really good spot for me, really nice, especially compared to the enormity of the school of art at the University of Tennessee. So I think I’m supposed to be here.”

Bottoroff is very involved with the art department and is committed to her craft. “My classes I’m taking are arts and crafts with Professor Oke, which is amazing, and then I have figure drawing with Professor Diesburg, and art history with the amazing Dean Rohrer,” she said. “Last semester I had a special problems class where I just did oil paintings, which are here in Winger and going in a student show. I had to petition for 21 hours last semester, and I have 19 this semester. I am a hard worker, but I don’t have much reason not to be.”
Bottorff’s pieces were displayed throughout the first floor of the Wine Recital Hall lobby through to the entrance to Winger. The gallery began with a large wooden box that housed a brilliant collage. “This was from University of Tennessee woodworking class,” Bottorff said. “Most art schools you do foundation, you do everything performance, music, et cetera. So for this piece, we got behind in our syllabus and he combined woodworking with collage. So this collage is actually velvet on the outside so you don’t see the collage, because I’m actually a very shy person.”

The piece on the wall behind it was a huge painted version of the collage. “The collage is biographical, it could be anything I like, anything about me, but it had to all be from cut images,” Leslee described. “I love the outside, the mountains, sailing, horses—so this turned into a really big thing. You could either do five small ones or one big one and I thought, ‘I’m getting all my stuff out, I’m gonna do a big one.’ I had not planned for anyone to see that collage, and now it’s out there.” 

In addition to self-portraits and collages, Bottorff displayed a number of nonrepresentational pieces as well. 
One nonrepresentational, non-narrative piece won first place at the student show at the University of Tennessee, an almost 100-year-old art show juried by artists in New York. A few of Bottorff’s works were shown at the Eel River art show in the North Manchester community and made it into the Honeywell show, as well. 

Though she enjoys her art classes, she is looking forward to the artistic freedom the future will bring.  “I am looking forward to a time when I don’t have a prompt, and then I can really paint. I prefer oil paint, and I hope to do more big landscapes because they’re so buttery and recognizable, yet abstract. I want to do more work with children’s art, because it’s so free. I was encouraged as a child because my grandfather was an artist, my grandmother was a poet, my uncle was a professor of art, so we were always really encouraged and I love doing that for kids. Honestly, I don’t know where I’m gonna end up when I grow up.”