Artist Lesley Dill, a renowned New York-based artist, brings historical and literary figures from America’s past to life in a new exhibition curated by the Figge Art Museum, 225 W. 2nd St., Davenport.

Opening this past weekend, Lesley Dill, Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me features a collection of hand-painted and sewn textile sculptures and banners created by Dill over the past six years. Her work carefully interweaves imagery, text, and historical visionaries into

Davenport’s Figge Art Museum to Premiere Traveling Exhibit From N.Y. Artist

An image from the new exhibit, Lesley Dill, Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me, which features a collection of hand-painted and sewn textile sculptures and banners created by Dill over the past six years.

stunning three-dimensional encounters.

Gracefully suspended from the ceiling, the clothing of each figure is delicately embellished with words and symbols drawn from their writings and experiences, according to a museum release. Hand-painted banners hang on every wall of the gallery with further texts and imagery elaborating on their incredible stories. The exhibition demonstrates how far we have come as a country and how far we have yet to go, the release said.

This is the first time the exhibition will be seen. After its presentation in the Q-C, it will travel to five other museums in the South and the Northeastern U.S., including the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts in Alabama and the Munson Williams Art Institute in Utica, N.Y.

“We are honored that Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me will debut right here in the Quad-Cities,” Figge executive director Michelle Hargrave said. “When visitors see these colossal and impressive works, they will be in awe. We hope they will be inspired by the personas and reminded of how the powerful words, experiences, and spirituality of these brave individuals helped shape our nation’s history.”

For Dill, there is a personal connection to many of the people represented in the new exhibition.

“These personas and their times stir something deep in my own family history and sense of self,” she said in the Figge release. “I was

Davenport’s Figge Art Museum to Premiere Traveling Exhibit From N.Y. Artist

A rendering of Sauk warrior Black Hawk in the Figge exhibit.

compelled to explore this period in America’s history when limited access to a diversity of written word ignited the bravery of these figures in response to their times.”

Of the 15 activists, seers, and visionaries represented, two are of particular importance to the Quad-Cities community. The first is Dred Scott, the enslaved Black man whose argument for freedom was based on his removal from the slave state of Missouri to Fort Armstrong in the free state of Illinois — a spot visible from the Figge.

The other is Sauk warrior Black Hawk, born in the village of Saukenuk, near present-day Rock Island. Other important figures from U.S. history, including Sojourner Truth, Mother Ann Lee and John Brown, are also represented.

Each of the people featured in the exhibition emerged from the “wilderness” of their day, voices raised in response to the troubled and chaotic times each faced. Through her distinctive artwork, Dill’s exhibition brings new life to these people.

Their own words are revealed in ways that reacquaint us with important stories of injustices that have been long woven into the fabric of our history, the Figge release said.


“Lesley Dill’s work allows viewers the unique opportunity to reexamine our nation’s history through the eyes of these outspoken figures,” said Andrew Wallace, director of collections and exhibitions at the Figge and the curator of the new exhibit. “Each of these individuals was a force in their times, and their lives continue to resonate in our current moment.”

Davenport’s Figge Art Museum to Premiere Traveling Exhibit From N.Y. Artist

An Evening with Lesley Dill will be held June 3.

Dill’s works are a platform for promoting cultural literacy and American history. Her incorporation of language throughout the exhibition links her works to American literary tradition. Dill’s sculptures and banners derive their power from the lives and words of the people her works represent.

The catalogue Lesley Dill, Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me is being produced in conjunction with the exhibition and features essays by Art Historian Nancy Princenthal, Andrew Wallace, and others. It will be released by Scheidegger & Spiess, Zurich, this month and be available for purchase in the Figge Museum Store.

 Companion Programs:

Member Preview and Reception

Wednesday, June 2, 5-7 p.m.

Figge members are invited to have a first look at this stunning exhibition and meet multi-media artist Lesley Dill. Complimentary snacks with cash bar will be provided. Registration required; capacity limited.

An Evening with Lesley Dill – In Person

Thursday, June 3, 6:30 p.m.

Join artist Lesley Dill at an in-person grand opening of her exhibition, Lesley Dill, Wilderness: Light Sizzles Around Me. Dill will discuss her artistic practice and the artworks included on display in the exhibition. This program will take place in the museum for a limited live audience.

Registration is free and is on a first-come basis. Visit to register. This event will also be live streamed with registration required for access.

The exhibit will be on display through Aug. 22. For more information on the artist, visit


Davenport’s Figge Art Museum to Premiere Traveling Exhibit From N.Y. Artist
Jonathan Turner has been covering the Quad-Cities arts scene for 25 years, first as a reporter with the Dispatch and Rock Island Argus, and then as a reporter with the Quad City Times. Jonathan is also an accomplished actor and musician who has been seen frequently on local theater stages, including the Bucktown Revue and Black Box Theatre.