Born Leslie Sam Robert in 1973, in Duncan, British Columbia, lessLIE is Coast Salish of Cowichan, Penelakut and Esquimalt Nations, and of Irish, Italian, and French heritage.
lessLIE has a BA in First Nations Studies from Malaspina College, now the Vancouver Island University. While working on this undergraduate degree, lessLIE began to study Coast Salish art. At the time, his cousin and Coast Salish artist, Joe Wilson, was a great source of inspiration and encouragement. lessLIE is artistically bound to Coast Salish art traditions and mythology. Although versed in eye-catching contemporary graphic designs, his practice remains true to Salish art form and style.
The Alcheringa Gallery of Victoria, BC remarkably supported lessLIE in the early years of his career, presenting three solo exhibitions: Oval and OVOID in 2005, cultural conFUSION in 2006, and cuneiFORM-LINE in 2008. Alcheringa also guided and assisted lessLIE through his first solo exhibition in a public gallery. The Two Rivers Gallery in Prince George, BC presented Coast SALEish in 2009. The same year, lessLIE visited London, UK where he participated in the Hailans and Ailans exhibition jointly presented by Rebecca Hossack Gallery and Alcheringa Gallery.
In 2011, followed the exhibitions spindle wHOLE, lessLIE’s fourth solo exhibition at Alcheringa, and Ailans Travelled, celebrating the return of works created for Hailans and Ailans to London, UK for the first international exhibition of contemporary Papua New Guinean and Canadian Northwest Coast art. In the 2014 exhibition entitled smALL, lessLIE explored his perspective on the YOUniverse by creating Coast Salish cosmograms: small graphic visual representations of the natural world.
Over these years, lessLIE participated in other exhibitions of Coast Salish art, several curated and organized by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria: in 2007, Transporters: Contemporary Coast Salish Art; in 2011, Victoria Collects: The Salish Weave Collection followed by the touring exhibition Record, (Re)create: Contemporary Coast Salish Art from the Salish Weave Collection presented at the Reach in Abbotsford, BC, the Nanaimo Art Gallery and the Comox Valley Art Gallery in 2014 and 2015.
lessLIE’s first foray in curation happened in 2013 when the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria asked him to co-curate the exhibition Urban Thunderbirds – Ravens in a Material World. The following year, he curated Perpetual Salish: Contemporary Coast Salish Art from the Salish Weave Collection at the University of Victoria Legacy Art Gallery Downtown.
In 2016, lessLIE was part of a collective of artists who co-curated the exhibition Out of the Frame: Salish Printmaking. For the signature piece of the exhibition, also titled Out of the Frame, lessLIE designed Daylight, product of his reflections on natural light and artificial light, and a depiction of the different stages of printmaking.
PC: Cara McKenna, Salish Sea Sentinel