Leslie J. Laskey

Leslie J. Laskey, Begonia.

Leslie J. Laskey

Leslie J. Laskey doesn’t just make art—he has an insatiable curiosity toward the world. His vision is strong and ever evolving, and he lives his art every day. Painter, sculptor, photographer, poet, teacher, mentor, cook, friend—Laskey approaches all such roles with the mindfulness of a true artist, taking nothing for granted, challenging himself and others, and making every experience an opportunity to both learn and teach.

One might imagine this approach was set in motion when, at the age of seventeen, Laskey participated in Orson Welles’ radio broadcast, The War of the Worlds. Or perhaps it was distilled in 1944 when, as a soldier in the U.S. Army during the Second World War, he stormed the beaches of Normandy. It was certainly refined at the Institute of Design in Chicago, where he studied under American Bauhaus pioneer László Moholy-Nagy.

Laskey joined the Washington University faculty in 1956. Over the next three decades, he profoundly influenced generations of design students as a professor in the School of Architecture and earned numerous teaching honors, including the Distinguished Professor Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture in 1985-86. Yet he always remained open to learning from others and encouraged the collaboration of ideas. He found a kinship and spiritual father in Shiko- Munakata, the internationally acclaimed Japanese woodblock artist.

Laskey’s legacy at the University is firmly rooted and continues to grow. In 1987, he was named professor emeritus, and in 2006, a group of his former students founded Studio L, an organization whose mission is to honor his teaching ethic and foster a living, evolving community of artists, friends, patrons, and students.

Neither retirement nor age have affected Laskey’s modus operandi. He teaches “ArtKamp” in the summer, and his personal production of art is still an important part of his life, whether it takes the form of the presentation of a uniquely “Laskey” meal or a major gallery opening. Forty-Seven Views of Leslie Laskey, a documentary film by David Wild that chronicles Laskey’s life over an 11-year period, premiered in 2012.

Laskey continues to work, live, love, and inspire, sharing his life with his partner of over fifty years, sculptor and architect Frank Schwaiger. He divides his time between St. Louis and Manistee, Michigan.