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Interdisciplinary Artist | Teaching Artist | Speaker | Writer | Storyteller | Program Developer | Community Builder & Researcher

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Marlesha S. Woods (she/her) is a Louisville native, a dedicated interdisciplinary artist, visual storyteller, creative placemaking strategist, writer, program developer, community researcher, and visual arts educator. Pairing visual arts with advocacy, Marlesha has partnered with award-winning non-profit organizations within the U.S. and globally to strengthen communities, and spark vital conversations including: health equity, diversity, and civic rights.

She is a member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education, National Art Education Association, Teaching Artists Guild, and Black Arts & Cultural Center. Her work and scholarship, centered within the intersections of public health and art, provide both cultural nuance and context to develop sustainable community-programming.


As owner & founder of Elsz & O Storytelling Gallery, she lends her consultancy and experience in Louisville Metro and beyond. She is also, a former senior teaching artist of Neighborhood Associates Corporation based in Washington, D.C. She has provided community engagement art-based programs for several organizations spanning 17 years of dedicated service. She has provided consultation with The Compassion Museum based in Minnesota's Twin Cities and is an inaugural 2892 Miles to Go National Geographic Wayfinder. Her community-based research has been featured in collaboration with nationally recognized data-catalyst, Root Cause Research Center.


Her visual artistry includes wearable art and commissioned paintings including an emphasis on abstract expressionism intertwined with portraiture. 



Clients & Community Collabs


The Heart of Outstanding Social Justice Advocacy

Phoenix Global Humanitarian Foundation, 2022

Collider AIR

Louisville Metro Government, 2020


SCTD 1st place Interior Design competition awardee

Sullivan College of Technology and Design, 2004




”It is important not to limit our sense of community...

Make it real & consistent. 

Real is where your tribe can find you.

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Featured Exhibitions & Collabs

We Don't Wither

Muhammad Ali Center 

Ina B. Bond Gallery, 2023


Just Imagine

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, 2021

Art Makes Home

Kentucky Refugee Ministries, 2020

Between the Lines I 

IUPUI Cultural Arts Gallery, 2019


Art Against Human Trafficking

Allies, Inc formerly Purchased, 2015

Beyond Borders

Pat Harrison Gallery, 2014


“When you are deciding on next steps, next jobs, next careers, further education, you should rather find purpose than a job or a career,” he said at the time. “Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history.”

Chadwick Boseman
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