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InLiquid Artist Profile: Drew Leshko's tiny houses pay tribute to architectural history

A show of work by Drew Leshko

Local artist Drew Leshko

Editor's note: This interview with Drew Leshko is presented as part of a content partnership with InLiquid.

Where are you based?

I have been living and working in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia for the past seven years, and found much of my inspiration and subjects locally.

What is your discipline?

I make architecturally-based, wall-hanging, miniature sculptures of buildings. They are built from varieties of archival papers at a 1" to 1' aspect ratio. 

What training/arts education have you had?

I was a Communications major at West Chester University with a minor in Fine Arts. 

What are you currently working on?
At the moment, I'm working on a sculpture of a building that houses a very seedy strip club. It's called the "World Famous Set-It-Off Go-Go Bar." It's a large piece for me and I've been busy with it for almost two months now. 

Describe your methods for us.

Working from observation and photographs, I build documentary sculptures of buildings and businesses that are on the cusp of redevelopment. I cut, carve, layer and paint different types of paper and affix them on a custom-built panel. For example, for a brick building, I start by cutting hundreds or possibly thousands of miniature paper bricks, painted in different hues, and then glue them to the panel. It's almost exactly like the process of building an actual house; I start with the framework, then the brickwork or stucco, then the windows, then the roof, then all of the other details. It can be overwhelming sometimes as there are no kits, prefab components or instructions. 

What have you been up to most recently?

I've been spending all of my time in the studio working towards an exhibition in Miami during Art Basel week (which took place December 2 to 7). I was selected to be a featured artist at SCOPE Art Fair in conjunction with Juxtapoz Magazine. For this opportunity, I am indebted to my incredibly hardworking art gallery, Paradigm Gallery + Studio in Philadelphia. I will have seven works on display. This is an incredible honor and I am pleased to bring a bit of Philadelphia to Miami. 
What's next up for you?

Next on my plate are a few small group shows in Philadelphia and a solo exhibition, "Relics," at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art opening in April 2015.  
What inspires you?

The lack of romance in contemporary architecture really inspires me to pay homage to the construction and design practices of yesterday. History can present itself in many forms. I like to look at the architecture of the buildings as a medium for history. It can tell the story of the region, the city, the neighborhood and even its people. 
Why do you make art other than out of necessity?

Hmm. This is a weird one….My family will tell you that I am a bit crazy when they see me making a "to scale" chain link fence out of tweezers! I make the work for myself and I'm thrilled that people enjoy it and receive it well. 
What do you hope people will get out of your work?

I hope that people take away an environmental feeling. As all of the sculptures I make are based on actual buildings slated for demolition or that may be transformed into something more modern, I hope that the viewers think about the buildings in their daily lives, a building's life span, what is worth preserving, the impacts of gentrification, and what remains.
For more on Drew Leshko and his work, visit drewleshko.com. You also follow him on Instagram @drewleshko.

INLIQUID is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to providing opportunities for visual artists and designers, serving as a free public hub for arts information and resources and making the visual arts more accessible to a broader audience through a continuing series of community-based art exhibitions and programs. 

Headshot by Peter Murray.

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