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Fargo's Own: Leslie Stefanson

A Peek at What This Actress-Turned-Sculptor Has Been Up To Since Moving to the Big Apple

Leslie Stefanson may divide her time between New York and Los Angeles these days, but the former actress-turned-sculptor has plenty of ties to the Fargo-Moorhead area. Stefanson was born in Fargo and raised in Moorhead, where she attended Moorhead High School. After high school, Stefanson went on to graduate from Barnard College in New York with a degree in English Literature.

Since she as a young girl, Stefanson has felt a strong creative calling. Growing up, she loved art and often participated in musicals and plays at Fargo’s Island Park and knew she wanted to do something artistic with her life. While in New York, Stefanson joined a theater group and began working as a model. It wasn’t long before she started getting cast in roles in commercials and movies. Eventually, she moved to Los Angeles to begin her professional acting career, where she met her long-time partner and fellow actor, James Spader.

Stefanson continued to pursue other creative outlets while in LA. It was during that time she started sculpting with bronze and terracotta. Although she had a successful acting career, Stefanson realized that sculpting fulfilled her in a way that acting did not. She notes, “I love the whole process of sculpting: the material, the work, the solitude, the time at the foundry and the history that precedes me in sculpture. I love imagining an idea and working out the entire concept on my own—the challenges and struggles that one faces because of the idea and then seeing how the sculpture changes as you work on it.”

The passion she feels for sculpting helped Stefanson realize it was time to make an artistic shift, and leave acting behind in favor of sculpting full-time. Since then, she has become well-known for her work and was recently awarded the Gold Medal & Charlotte Geffken Prize from the National Sculpture Society for her piece, La Bestia. The bronze sculpture depicts a network of freight trains that provide refugees and asylum seekers with an expedited form of transport from Mexico the southern board of the US. Traveling the 1,450 miles through Mexico by La Bestia is highly-dangerous and often fatal for travelers.

With just one look at La Bestia and the other nine pieces in the collection, it’s evident that the refugee movement is something Stefanson feels strongly about. With more than 70 million people displaced annually, she wants to bring awareness and support to the challenges refugees face. In the future, she hopes to put together a gallery show with the proceeds going to organizations that assist refugees. In the meantime, Stefanson plans to continue sculpting and spending time with her partner and their son, Nathaneal.

LeslieStefanson.com

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