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Projects Underway

Plastic

Consuming Plastic
View paintings

Chateau de la Napoule, France
February 2014

The way we consume plastic has become pervasive all over this world. In quiet ways, the material passes through our lives with little or no attention to where it goes after it leaves our spheres. It is familiar, too familiar, so that is has distorted our notions of value and waste.

This series explores the common ways which plastic passes through our lives. The situations are familiar to us all, even as the environments may be foreign. “Transportation” is represented by a dug out canoe traveling through the Okavango Delta in Botswana. A “Restaurant” is a street stall in Mandalay, Burma. The “Toystore” is on a boat in the floating market in the Mekong Delta, and “Housing” is a lakeside community made of recycled material in Cambodia. The range of situations reflects how wide spread our consumption of plastic really is.

right: Restaurant - Burma, Housing - Cambodia, Transportation - Botswana. Watermedia, oil and found plastic collage on repurposed foamcore

Debris

Debris is an interactive, collaborative installation which is being created as a response to the problems presented by single use plastic. The work reflects the literal problem of plastic in the marine environments, while offering a symbolic representation of the chemical body burdens carried by wildlife and humans alike. In presenting these issues, we are asked to consider misplaced notions of “disposability”, calling in to question consumer driven waste which has devalued what is in fact a very important material.

Learn more & Participate in the project

Upcoming engagements:

Networked Urban Mobilities
How new technologies change cities, cultures & economies
November 2014
Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark

Surface Arts - Rumpueng
August 2015
Chaing Mai, Thailand

right: Alewives - Blue Whale Family: plastic collage on watercolor paintings


Installing work at La Napoule - photo: Michael Gadlin

Nourish

Nourish is a multifaceted project which seeks to understand the way we grow and consume food.

Starting with the impacts of our industrial food machine, a series of paintings were created to explore the environmental consequences of imposing ourselves on the land. As a counterpoint to the problems caused by industrial agriculture, solutions are presented through educational works about developing technologies built around the ideas of sustainable agriculture. The third arm of this project reflects on the resilience demonstrated by people around the world who are finding ways to maintain traditions in the face of a globalization which tears at the social fabric of our communities.

SEED Denver

In 2015 SEED Taos will travel to Denver

Image: Ladybug with carrot flowers and seeds (detail)

SALT
Ghetto Biennial
December 2013 - Port-Au-Prince, Haiti

Society for Caribbean Studies
July 2014 - University of Glasgow, Scotand

Moving Beyond Capitalism
July - August 2014
Center for Global Justice, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Terra Madre
October 2014 - Turin, Italy

Food prepared slowly, with love, offers comfort and empowerment to those who are nourished by it. It is a cultural foundation, maintained primarily by women, which acts as a strong glue that holds community together in ways that maintain an important sense of identity. During the 2013 Ghetto Biennale in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, I followed grandmothers on their paths of procuring and preparing nourishment, which was shared with the community as a series of performative dinners that took place within the twisted ghetto alleyways. During the process, I transcribed recipes in order to preserve traditional approaches of making and sharing nourishment. Instead of building ethnographic reflections based on an outsider gaze, I used these recipes as a framework to explore the collisions between US food policy and Haitian experience. Drawing on the woodcarving traditions of the area, I also made a series of woodblock portraits of the women. The overall project combines community engaged work with research based narrative and an artistic representation of the issues which confront Haitians. The work looks at alternative economies that have grown out of extreme poverty, as well the expression of pride through maintaining traditions that exist in one of the poorest areas in the western hemisphere. It offers an examination of the role of women, and in particular grandmothers, as pillars of the community through a platform of nourishment.

Image: Soloman Market, from the Haiti Sketchbook

Lee Lee - sketch of the Soloman Market, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Grandpa's Garden
Small scale solutions & emerging technologies

Tales of Thatcher Gray
A Year in Grandpa's Garden seeks to educate children with solutions to some of today’s biggest environmental problems which are caused by the industrial food machine. This body of work follows the development of a permaculture garden by Thatcher Gray and Grandpa. Important solutions stem from growing food in a sustainable way that involves the next generation. Exploring the importance of composting, gray water recycling & filtration through wetlands, habitat construction & maintenance, seed saving, biodiversity and nourishment, Thatcher Gray learns to be conscious of impacts we have on our surroundings. Peter T. Leonard (Grandpa) is a master gardener who focuses on a return to tradition while incorporating new developments in polyculture, aquaponics and permaculture. He is writing haiku to compliment the paintings. The work is available online with expanded explanations and links specific to the subjects addressed, and may be viewed at TalesOfThatcherGray.com

12.12: "It is a charming account of three generations working together to create a utopian family haven that speaks to global responsibility"
from An Artful Adventure in Sustainable Living by Lyn Bleiler – Eco Source Magazine

7.12: A Year in Grandpa's Garden - Edible Santa Fe
Featuring watercolors on Permaculture

May 31 - July 19, 2013: Urban Earth
Downtown Aurora Visual Arts Center, CO
This exhibition highlights the importance of reconnecting people and their environment through sustainable urban landscapes.
Opening Reception: May 31, 4-8pm

10.12: Slow Food USA delegate to the Terra Madre conference - Turin, Italy
Synopsis: Global Perspectives on Localized Food Movements

9.27.12: ISEA2012: Machine Wilderness - Reinvisioning Art, Technology & Nature.

right: Carrot - Bee - Zucchini - watermedia, tea, beet & red cabbage stain

Monarch
The Butterfly Project

The Monarch butterfly population is on the verge of collapse. Huge swaths of industrialized monoculture have all but decimated the milkweed which is necessary to nourish the generations of butterflies that complete a migration cycle. Chemical inputs, especially pesticides, are fatal to butterflies. Visually, the butterfly is fragile. These prints give the butterflies a ghostly appearance to givea sense of their decline.

The interactive nature of this project offers the opportunity for participants to express their hopes on cards made of repurposed manila folders printed in the warm blacks and oranges of the Monarchs. Prompts are offered so that people may share solution oriented ideas in writing. We hope to engage participants in a dialogue centered around solutions from regions north and south of a border that is evident to us but invisible to the graceful Monarchs. As we enter the Anthropocene, it is vital that we recognize that in the era that has been named after humans, it is up to us to ensure our future survival.

Collaboration with Susanne Mitchell
Participate

Over the Edge: Paperworks Unbound
November-December 2014
Curated by Claire Gilman of The Drawing Center
Williamsburg Art and Historical Center
Brooklyn, NY

Art as Catalyst
July - August, 2014
The Center for Global Justice
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

REAP
The Environmental Un-sustainability of the
American Food Machine

 

Overview

Bitter but beautiful Harvest
Lee Lee's stark style captures anger and elegance among environmental degradation.
by Lennie Bennett, St Petersburg Times

 

Exhibition Highlights:
Equilibrium; Art for a Changing World - Woman Made Gallery, Chicago IL, 2014
Natural/Constructed Spaces -
The Painting Center, NY, 2012
Taos Contemporary - The Metro Center for Visual Art, Denver CO, 2012
Nature:Working!
- 910 Arts, Denver, 2011
Vanishing Pollinators - WEAD installation at the Bioneers Conference, 2010
Art & Agriculture - The Columbia Arts Center, 2010
Extinction - Denver Botanic Gardens, 2009
REAP - C Emerson Fine Arts, St Petersburg FL, 2009

 

"Lee Lee's silvery gray Crop Circles provides an aerial view of cultivated agricultural land seemingly through a rain screen, as though the blurred landscape is disintegrating beneath us"
- Curatorial statement by Galen Cheney & Marianne Van Lent for Natural/Constructed Spaces at the Painting Center, NY

right: Rain - Oil Refinery, Commerce City (detail) watercolor, conte & oil
Ghost: Abandoned Slaughterhouse - watermedia & tar on shotgunned collage
Crop: acryllic on canvas

Resilience in the face of Globalization

Guatemala

Starting with stone lithographs of lush forest, these mixed media works on paper were truck-tracked with fresh tar, then torn into small squares. They serve as a foundation that speaks to the situation imposed on the Maya: pushed off their land and treated like slaves on plantation style agricultural production facilities owned by multinational corporations. They fill US demands for cheap commodities which comes at a severe cost to both people and the environment. The texture of tar is an echo of the continuing destructive influence of these corporations. Tar is made from oil which also makes up the petrochemicals used in the style of agriculture that is decimating the environment.

Somehow, Mayan culture is not decimated. They maintain an incredible dedication to tradition, working in harmony with the environment. Ancient customs are manifested through the colorful and intricate weavings which are worn with pride. These portraits are of Mayan women from the highlands market in Chichicastenango. Exploring a wide range of human emotion from being weary and hurt to looking forward with hope, the vignettes are intended to explore the breadth and range of emotional textures in this community.

Exhibitions:
Dairy Center for the Arts
Our Global Village
May - June, 2013 - Opening reception May 10
2590 Walnut Street, Boulder, CO

Bridging the Gap - New exhibit tells immigrants' unheard stories by Aimee Heckel, Boulder Daily Camera

Borders & Boundaries
October 2012
Harwood Art Center, Albuquerque NM

Biennial of the Americas
2010 - Denver

right: espera - tar, sharpie, watercolor & pencil over torn lithograph

Hybrid

Initiated by Rian Kerrane, a native of Ireland, Hybrid asks fourteen artists to “cross over”. The artists’ work examines the experience of crossing the Atlantic in the current political climate while acknowledging historic influences from each artist’s perspective; identifying experiences of (dis)placement and immersion in cultural and social surroundings from either side of the Atlantic. RedLine provides the first venue for a pair of exhibitions, the second of which will take place in Ireland, allowing each artist to engage both with “local” proximity and “foreign” distance in turn.

January, 2016 - Letterkenney, Ireland

Redline
2350 Arapahoe Street, Denver CO 80205
August 11 – September 30, 2012

At RedLine, Colorado and Irish artists take on each others' lands
by Ray Rinaldi for the Denver Post, 19 August 2012

Colorado Art Ranch - Terraphilia Residency
June, 2012 - Salida CO

View work
The Hybrid work was developed around the long term ecological impacts of hardrock mining on the Arkansas river. The bulk of the miners who came out west were from Ireland and have had a lasting imprint on the culture here.

right: Maid of Erin mine & Stringtown mine, Leadville CO - tea, graphite, ink on paper