Leah Limpert Walt ’18 named Fine Art Alumni Artist in Residence
Wednesday, October 26th, 2022
Leah Limpert Walt ’18, Fine Art, embraces the fluidity of shape-shifting. A non-traditional student when she first arrived at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, she used the myriad classes she took at other institutions to help inform and hone the vision she wanted to create as she pursued her BFA.
Now, new experiences like having a baby, moving to Lancaster, and setting up a new home studio are all fueling her creative fire in new ways.
So it’s not surprising that she’s using her current position, as PCA&D’s Fine Art Alumni Artist in Residence, to follow a new path in her painting, too.
“I want to use the residency to focus on my process in painting and make it more efficient, focus on how I can learn from it,” Walt said one recent afternoon. Oil paints waited for her on her glass palette, and sunlight grazed the north-facing window of her 4th-floor campus studio as she took a break from working on her newest collection of work to talk about her residency position.
It’s a ‘conversation’
Anyone who’s familiar with Walt’s current body of larger-scale, surrealist work may be surprised by what’s starting to fill the walls of her PCA&D studio.
“My typical process before now was to sketch and go right to paint it,” she says. “But I’m trying now to resolve compositional issues, color issues, the palette before I paint.” Reference sketches from nature preserves around the region form the basis of the background in round and oval works, shapes “that are new to the way I work, and at a smaller scale,” the artist says.
“The shape is different, the content is different … it’s a ‘conversation’ that is a little more bleak, and encompasses the landscapes of these areas. There are a lot of thoughts on storms, looking back to historical paintings of storms and tempests.”
She hasn’t completely abandoned the surreal aspect of her earlier works, though, works that included both painting and sculpture. “I still do consider myself a sculptor; a show in York in May 2021 included that work,” she says. “Here, I’m creating a body of work as the ideas change and morph, and this is solely going to be 2D.”
The goal for her residency? “To try to take what’s in my head and heart, and the feelings there, and implant that in my work, and take my time with it,” she says. “The residency has provided me that focus” of a dedicated space, and the time in which she can dive more deeply into this new phase of her painting evolution. The smaller size and new shape of her paintings, too, points toward another goal Walt has for her residency: “I’m hoping this body of work gets me to where I can start showing in different capacities” at more galleries and other venues. “Smaller paintings makes travel easier — and the smaller size makes people get closer to the work and more intimate with it.”
During her time at PCA&D as a BFA student, the summa cum laude graduate also was the recipient of the Cynthia E. Price Memorial Scholarship, an honor in recognition of her strong academic record and work ethic. Since graduation, she not only has exhibited in New York, Philadelphia, Bethlehem, and throughout the lower Susquehanna Valley, she also has been a frequent instructor in the College’s Center for Creative Exploration.
And each of those experiences, Walt says, including her current residency, is a chance to push and grow beyond boundaries. “I’m still learning with my work and with my process,” Walt says. “If at any point you think you have it figured out, you’re wrong.”
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