About the Artists

Lesley Grogan

Born in San Diego in 1962, Lesley moved to Denmark with her family at the age of 4. She says, " I lived in Denmark for two years England for eight years in bits and pieces, traveled through Europe constantly, living out of a car and camping out.. I was educated in art museums, cathedrals, castles and monolithic ruins! Our family lived in Pennsylvania briefly for a year and a half. It was there, when I was 9, that my younger brother, then 7, was crippled after an accident, and my parents got divorced."

In her mid-teens, while attending a boarding school in England, she liked to spend time in the art room a couple of times a week, but she says, "I failed the art classes I took!" At the age of 16 she moved from England to Santa Barbara to live on her own. She started to do abstract drawings, which she says, "were a code." It was at this time she says, "I took some acid which opened a door, which I could never close." At the age of 17 she tried to kill herself by, "putting my head under a car wheel. I was saved by the assistant minister of the Unitarian Church." She says she was given the psychiatric medication Haldol, "which made every joint in my body feel dislocated. I couldn't even swallow my own spit."

At the age of 18, while in residential treatment in Santa Barbara, she got on SSI - government support for individuals with disabilities. At that time, she says, "doing art was keeping me busy and focused."

At the age of 20, she moved out of the abstract phase and started to do stylized figurative art. She says, "I've had periods of super-realism and landscapes. Still life bores me. In my teens I was influenced by Salvador Dali, later on by Freda Kahlo and Marc Chagall."

"Since 2001," she says, "I have been doing classes in sculpture, jewelry, figure drawing and painting at the local Adult Education Center

Lesley has exhibited at the annual local Mental Health Arts Festival in Santa Barbara since it started 15 years ago. She has been teaching classes in art to mental health clients four days a week since 2002, and in 2010 started teaching a class to brain-injured adults.

She is a cat-lover. Sadly the cat, Camus, who appears with her in the film Crazy Art, died in July, 2010. She has a new kitty, Nova, who is a bundle of energy!

Reflecting on the relationship between psychiatric symptoms and creativity, she says, "Mental illness is not the center of my life. Art is the center of my life."