Visual Arts

"Leigh Anne Lester: Beautiful Freaks/Nature's Bastards" Showcases Botanical Drawings, With a Twist

Leigh Anne Lester, winner of the $50,000 2011 Hunting Art Prize, presents her botanically bizarre work in "Beautiful Freaks/Nature's Bastards."

At first glance, Lester's drawings look like some sort of 18th-century botanical drawings, the kind oft-reproduced for traditional home decor. But Lester's delicate work lures you in with its fragile beauty, which is much more compelling than the run-of-the-mill botanical illustration. Then you realize there is something really, really wrong going on here.

Lester is offering up work in a variety of materials, everything from drawings done with carbon paper to embroidery to plant sculptures sewn from clear plastic vinyl. (I'd love these even more if the plastic was colored and creepier.)

The graphite on paper Large Turf (after Albrecht Durer) (2010) is the show's standout, drawing you in to its layers and layers of detail. Stalks sprout leaves and buds and spines and nuts, roots network with ominous alien nodules. If you're myopic, take off your glasses and inspect the infinitesimally gnarled, prickly or furry surfaces of the plant, it'll make you shudder. It is not of this world.

The show runs through October 14 at Houston Arts Alliance's space125gallery, 3201 Allen Parkway, 713-527-9330.