Sandra Leonard's ('88) sculptures are alive. The Chicago-area artist makes costumes, or "wearable sculptures," in unconventional shapes that are shown in theatrical productions, galleries, wearable art runway shows and even the Field Museum and the Shedd Aquarium, where children can don her animal costumes. She also worked with the Art Institute of Chicago to create Bauhaus-inspired interactive costumes.
Leonard has liked experimenting since she was at UNT, where she worked in ceramics, architecture and photography. In the sculpture department, she practiced welding, woodworking and bronze casting -- and met her husband, John Colson ('86), also an artist. Her sculptures require both sewing and construction techniques. She'll manipulate fabric with embroidery, cross stitch or paint. Then she'll add in metal and plastic boning for structure to create skirts. Making a costume can take one to two months to finish and requires repetitive work for often unseen details.
"The joy of this process is having the costume finally finished and seeing it on a performer," Leonard says, "having my vision come to life."