Needlepoint Artist Brings Jazz Portraits To Theatrical Outfit

Needlepoint artist Leanna Leithauser-Lesley’s portraits of jazz musicians are on display in conjuction with Theatrical Outfit’s “Simply Simone.” Photo courtesy of Theatrical Outfit.

Reading liner notes, talking to aficionados and library research guided Birmingham-based Leanna Leithauser-Lesley’s portraits of jazz musicians.

Her collection is now on display at Theatrical Outfit in conjunction with their production of “Simply Simone,” a revue of Nina Simone’s music, which opens next week.

These are not paintings: Leithauser-Lesley does her portraiture in needle point.

“You’ve got this quiet, beautiful, methodical stitching that’s mixed together with this sort of unrestrained jazz,” Lesley said in an interview with Lois Reitzes.

Leithauser-Lesley has been needlepointing most of her life. She said the craft has taught her how to focus and accomplish projects. Through her many years of experience and experimentation with needlepoint, she’s turned it into an art.

“Anything that requires a level of creativity and planning and thought and experimentation is an art form,” she said. “I want people to see needlepoint as a modern kind of art.”

There will be a reception for Leithauser-Lesley’s work at Theatrical Outfit’s Balzer Theater on April 13 at 5:30 p.m.

Leithauser-Lesley is also in town for the American Craft Council Show. Over three days at the Cobb Galleria, she invites all needlepointers from the novice to the expert to come and contribute to one massive piece.

This article originally appeared with an audio interview at WABE.org.

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