FotoFest Exhibitions

Leslie Hall

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Ames, Iowa, native Leslie Hall is a video artist and lead singer to her band Leslie and the Ly’s, and a connoisseur of the decorative and decidedly lowbrow fashion accessory known as the gem sweater. Hall began collecting gem sweaters in 2000 and has since amassed over 400 different kinds. A graduate of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, she has created significant interest through her various commercial endeavors, including Midwest Diva stretchy pants, “gay wedding in Iowa” packages, and tour information for her wildly popular band. In 2005 her band released their first album, Gold Pants, and in 2006 Hall followed up with a second self-released solo record, Door Man’s Daughter, and toured the globe in support of it. She was also featured on a VH1 special called 40 Greatest Internet Superstars. Hall’s videos are readily available on YouTube and usually accompany songs off her albums. How We Go Out (2007) features the artist in her trademark “Jiffy-Pop” hairdo, gold lamé outfit with octopus-like epaulets, and oversized glasses, accompanied by her two backup singers. The spirited rap song features the artist in a variety of middle American settings including a supermarket, a video store, and a discount clothing store, dancing around with a variety of characters. Hall’s charmingly low-tech videos are alternately hilarious yet touching vignettes that celebrate life in the Midwest and her aspirations towards becoming a pop superstar. Her latest video, Gravel in My Shoe (2009), is a mordant view into the lives of a polygamist community in which Hall plays one of the harried wives; it pushes Hall’s work in a stronger narrative direction even as it remains firmly planted in a local American vernacular.

Leslie Hall initially caught the hearts and eyes of America’s children when she began uploading images of her world famous gem sweater collection on the internet. Through word of mouth interest in her site quickly grew and within one month the site received over two million unique hits, which left her with an $800 bill for exceeding her bandwidth. To raise money to pay back her mother, who paid the bill, Hall did what any 200 lb. plus girl from Iowa would do. She became a rapper. Hall’s star has risen quickly with such viral video music hits a Gold Pants, Beatdazzler, Zombie Killer, and How We Go Out. She has performed at Los Angeles’s Hammer Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and sold out shows supporting the Scissor Sisters at New York City’s infamous Bowery Ballroom.