words + portrait photography MORGAIN BAILEY

Paris Original
19 x 25 inches
oil on collaged
sewing pattern paper
Code Pink
16" x 60"
oil on canvas
24 x 48 inches
oil on collaged
sewing pattern paper
14" x 44"
oil on canvas
24 48 inches
oil on collaged
sewing pattern paper

lesia’s paintings attract me with their relentless exploration of structures of femininity through an aesthetic dialogue that includes her references to her ancestors through a present-day visual dialogue. Her home sits on a hillside with a pastoral view that includes a small lake. When I arrived, I figured I was at the right place because I had reached the end of the insanely scenic road. Lesia’s studio is a sanctuary over her garage, separated from the main house, which gives her all the privacy she needs to work. We spent a lot of time talking, while I made the occasional photo and explored her studio. In the corner of the studio is a mannequin, which was wearing the coat shown in this portrait. Lesia told me the story of the coat, which was made by her seamstress mother for herself. I asked Lesia if it fit her and it did, so she put it on, with much delight. I had her stand in the ambient glow of a skylight and Lesia snuggled up into the coat as if it were her mother’s embrace. The moment only lasted for a second, but that was enough for me to make this photograph. I chose this photograph because of the emotional quality and for the reference to ancestors and sewing that are the common threads of Lesia’s work.


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Favorite …
Guilty pleasure?
Guilty pleasures, hmm... can’t think of any in recent years (guess I’m just a Goody Two-Shoes) but when my daughter was an infant, the only way I could get her to sleep was to walk her around our chimney for a very looong time. Never watched soaps before, but began watching “The Young and The Restless." I became addicted! When I didn’t have to walk her anymore, I had to wean myself off that soap... I had withdrawals!

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Artist's Note about the Coat

My mother’s coat, I have saved it all these many years. Maria was a fantastic seamstress and sewed all of my and my sister’s clothing. She made this winter coat for herself. Her craft was the inspiration for an ongoing series of paintings depicting women, sewing and fashion.

I needed to see what a fur collar looked like for a painting depicting the artist Louise Nevelson in her iconic tapestry coat (which had a fur collar) and I remembered my mother’s coat. It was the perfect reference.

After the painting was finished, I left the coat hanging on a mannequin in the studio. I loved seeing it, feeling its presence.

When Morgain came to photograph, she was drawn to the coat and asked me about it, and had me put it on. It felt so wonderful. I imagined my mother wearing it. I could almost smell her.

—Lesia Sochor

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