Leslie Ann O’Dell is a self-taught photo-illustration artist from Denver who creates hauntingly surreal portraits of women. Recurring throughout her works are washed-out figures overgrown with flowers and foliage; patterns sprout and undulate in the place of eyes, and everywhere you look subtle details unravel through hair and across skin. Charged with an arcane darkness, O’Dell’s works summon the chilling, seductive beauty of vampires and forest spirits. With nature, the psyche, and the subconscious as some of the central themes, the portraits shift gracefully between reality and dreams.
O’Dell’s subjects are specters of both beauty and death: flowers bleed and adorn the women’s heads like funeral offerings, bodily contours putrefy into weeds, and sightless eyes gaze into an unseen abyss. In a figurative representation of death-becoming-life (and vice-versa), a bird stretches its wings inside an opened chest cavity (see “Hope”). Some of the images confront us with a more somber beauty — observe the ethereal and aloof figures in “Contemporary Monster” and “Sleepwalk.” Vacillating between delicacy and intense emotion, O’Dell’s works seduce and seize the imagination.