Mike Sleadd, born and raised in Kentucky, currently resides in Columbia, Missouri. As the current Chair of the Department of Visual Arts and Music at Columbia College, he has taught a variety of art classes for the past 27 years. Sleadd works from numerous thumbnail sketches, beginning a drawing with expressive gestures using the ink-soaked plume of a feather. From those initial strokes, he begins to weave an array of patterns into detailed, whimsical abstractions. Intricate, expressive, and sometimes humorous, Sleadd’s work is complex and full of texture, evolving over dozens of hours spent dipping his pen into his antique inkwell.


In Mike Sleadd’s most recent works, ink is applied with a new variety of tools, including a feather. The use of the feather as an applicator is particularly interesting once one dwells a bit on the imagery of this series, which often hints at wings and feathery appendages. Quick, heavily black, gestural lines describe sinewy figures in the midst of some supernatural narrative which we are left to interpret, usually with not-insubstantial aid from prosaic titles. While the gist and gesture of every form is captured in these thick, feathered strokes, Sleadd then returns to the interior spaces of his compositions with intensely minute, fine detail, bringing exquisite balance between control and relinquishment of control.