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Sylvia Sleigh

Artist Statement


Sylvia Sleigh was an early feminist and a crusader for women artists. She felt that females had made great strides in many areas, however, female artists were still struggling for representation by galleries which negatively impacted their prices and sales. Consequently, she became an outspoken advocate in support of equity.

Sleigh developed her feminist position through her own life experiences. She began her career by designing and making clothes and later became a painter. She casts a female gaze onto the male body. She painted male nudes and positioned the nudes in poses typically reserved for female nudes painted by male artists. The feelings evoked by these paintings followed the same path of eroticism as those done by men, atypical at the time of creation.

Sylvia was born in Wales and immigrated to the United States where she became a citizen. She was married twice. Once to a painter and then to an art critic who became a curator for the Guggeheim Museum.

Sleigh both curated shows for other women as well as had her own exhibitions at prestigious universities. She received many awards including The Distinguished Artists Award for a Lifetime and The Woman’s Caucus for Art lifetime achievement award.

Sleigh's work can be seen at The Chicago Institute of Art, the National Portrait Gallery of London, the Rowan Gallery, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She passed away at the age of 94 in 2010.