My main focus as an artist is portraiture. With each subject I draw, I strive to bring out each persons’ inner beauty and story. Whether working from life or from photographs of days gone by, my drawings are technically accurate renditions with an emphasis on each individual’s spirit. Though each viewer will feel or take away something different, I hope they will see beyond just a portrait and feel something impactful.
Upon hearing of this exhibition I instantly knew I wanted to be part of something so important and relevant even yet today. I feel it’s important to pay tribute to these amazing Minnesota women who believed and fought for what was right, despite the many barriers they must have endured. And in today’s political climate women’s rights are still being challenged, this exhibition celebrates 100 years of women’s rights; let’s not erase history and all that these amazing women accomplished throughout the years.
Her story should never be forgotten, and the fight for equal rights still needs attention now more than ever.
I’m very proud and honored to represent Katie McWatt for this exhibition. I believe that Katie embodies “Persistence” through her tireless effort toward making positive change in her lifetime. Growing up in Minneapolis, Katie experienced racism early as a first grader who was the only African American in her elementary school. Her parents and Grandmother helped her overcome threats she received with love and support – Katie persevered through her desire to change the way the world works. In 1964, frustrated by the housing discrimination in the City of St. Paul, Katie McWatt decided to run for City Council. This was a difficult task during the time period, not just being a female, but even more of a challenge as an African American female. Although she was not elected, her advocacy on behalf of African American people grew even more. In my research for this exhibit I was disturbed that the tireless work so many women gave throughout the years is now being threatened in our current culture—how can we allow this? Why is everything Katie fought so hard against still an issue? Her story should never be forgotten, and the fight for equal rights still needs attention now more than ever. I admire Katie so much for all she stood up for and for all those she stood up to—she fought a good fight for the community that she loved so dearly. Just prior to her death in 2010, she told her friend Josie Johnson, “I want my people to know I loved them and I loved doing the things I did for them.” I want people to look at my drawing of Katie and see her beauty and the powerful love she carried with her throughout her lifetime for people.
Lesley Walton and Katie McWatt
Lesley Walton is an artist living and working in St. Paul, MN who specializes in drawings and paintings. Her focus is creating portraiture that allows her to express her love of people and their character seen through a single expression. Lesley’s graphite pencil portraits are drawn not only to provide an accurate rendition of each subject—but to also capture their spirit and soul. Her paintings are colorful, fun, and bold concentrating on nostalgic times. Lesley reinvents black and white snapshots from years past with colors that make each personality come to life as she sees them.
Lesley’s graphite pencil portraits are drawn not only to provide an accurate rendition of each subject—but to also capture their spirit and soul.
Lesley attended the Cleveland Institute of Art while living in Ohio—concentrating on painting, drawing, and silversmithing. Her work has won numerous awards and has been featured in multiple publications including The New Creative Artist, a book by Nita Leland, and the May 2014 issue of Minnesota Women’s Press magazine that not only highlighted her work on the cover, but also included an artist interview with Lesley.