It was in a class of Native American pottery that Leslie Thompson clarified her desire to work with surface designs on clay. She is inspired by traditional female crafts and the diversity of images in combining weaving, quilting, and other designs with a range of elegant pot shapes.
The fusion of the flowing ceramic form and the crisp geometrical patterns continues to fascinate her and move throughout her work. She finds new ideas from many sources including the work of M.C. Escher and artists of the Optical Movement.
The pots are made by coating a high-fire porcelain vessel with black slip, then carving through the black, back to the original white surface while the clay is still soft. The high contrast enhances the movement and dimensionality of the designs. The interiors are glazed with a non-toxic glaze, and the lidded pots are given handles using animal fetishes carved by the Zunis of New Mexico.
The animal represents spiritual qualities which are sacred to the Navajo and the Zuni and the line of the fetish complements the form of the vessel and contrasts the formality of the design.
With an Art minor from the University of Colorado, Thompson went on to receive her diploma in Ceramic Design from the Caulfield Institute in Australia. From 1989 to 1995, she has seven publications, is in seventeen shows and forty galleries throughout the country, including Washington D.C., California, Wisconsin, New York, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Texas and Massachusetts.