This is the last week to head over to the Trenton Public Library to see the work of local artist Zoe Lavatelli Leach.

Lavatelli paints a very niche subject, animals’ skulls, though they aren’t in black and white. They are surrounded by color and nature. She explains that during the pandemic, she felt a draw to that subject area.

“There’s a few reasons,” Lavatelli said, “I did kind of stumble upon it. But once I stumbled upon it, it was just like, I felt that draw and was like, Yeah, I want to keep painting this. It’s held my interest.” 

She explains that in the beginning that she didn’t know if focusing on such niche subject was the right move.

“I had thought, you know, there was a little bit of trepidation of like, cliche and niche, but at the same time, we’re used to seeing dinosaur skulls. We’re used to seeing human skulls but not necessarily animals,” Lavatelli said. 

She describes her work as playful while being macabre. Lavatelli uses the darkness and beauty of an animal skull as content for many aspects of expression. “In more than one way, they dwell in the tension of “in-betweens” — formally, they contain both representation and abstraction, while the imagery straddles the duality of “high art” and “low-brow” kitsch or cliche,” Lavatelli writes.

Lavatelli Leach, born in Dallas, TX, was immersed in art from a young age, growing up in a family of artists in Buffalo, NY. She currently resides in Trenton and uses primarily oil paint, watercolor, and mixed media on canvas and paper. 

She obtained a BFA from The Cooper Union and has both formally and informally studied various disciplines outside the art field. The study and practice of Buddhism has been particularly influential, with its focus on existential questions, and the impermanent nature of reality forming the basis for both the content she engages and the painting process itself.

Zoe Lavatelli Leach’s “Death Ark of Divine Fauna” is on display now through May 25th in the Mezzanine Gallery. The show can be viewed during regular library hours. To learn more about the artist go to www.zoelavatelli.com and to learn more about the library’s gallery go to https://www.trentonlib.org/trenton-art-gallery