People don’t always choose a job in the field they studied.

This is especially true for Cal Poly alumna and artist Leslie Love Stone.

Stone graduated from Cal Poly with a master degree in business administration. However, after establishing a successful career as a bank executive, Stone was inspired to switch professions completely and pursue her passion for art.

“I thought: ‘Perhaps the world needs more artists than bankers,’” Stone said.

Upon making the switch, Stone attended Claremont Graduate University and received her Master of Fine Arts.

With a strong background in science and math, Stone wanted to incorporate her education into her work as an artist. She thought her art should be an extension of her interests in math, data and riddles.

“Most of my career has been spent evaluating data and statistics, so that’s the natural, authentic thing for me to express,” Stone said. “At Claremont, I started developing different ways to represent data through my art.”

Stone repeats three elements in all of her works of art: numbers, nature and color. These characteristics are all apparent in her upcoming exhibition at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art (SLOMA).

Stone’s exhibition “Intersecting California’s National Parks,” which includes nine paintings representing each California national park, is displayed at SLOMA until Jan. 29, 2017.

To collect her color palettes for each painting, Stone visited all of California’s national parks and matched colors of vegetation and soil with a color book. She then met with Cal Poly botanists and soil scientists to gather data from each color — specifically data about vegetation, soil and precipitation. With that information, she used her own numeric representation system to transform the data into geometric shapes.

“When you look at those paintings, the amount of precipitation, visible vegetation and visible soil is accurately presented in the percentage of triangles with those colors,” Stone said. “When you stand in the middle of the room with my paintings, you can actually tell a lot about each park.”

Stone classifies her art as part of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math), a nationwide movement to unite those in various fields and encourage interdisciplinary studies. Kennedy Library partners with outside organizations to promote conversations about STEAM, spreading these ideas to the Cal Poly community.

Stone said that for STEAM to become popular, people must receive a well-rounded education from an early age.

“Art doesn’t have the same respect as hard science,” Stone said. “Everyone knows what the scientific method is because we learn it in school. A lot of elementary school art programs are about macaroni and glitter and aren’t about design method. If kids can understand the scientific method, they can understand an artistic method.”

College of Science and Mathematics Librarian Jeanine Scaramozzino thinks Stone’s message is important to apply to Cal Poly’s ways of teaching.

“We at Cal Poly are so focused on the tech part of education,” Scaramozzino said. “We turn out amazing business students and engineers, but we need people who study arts to work with those people for everyone to
be successful.”

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