Categories
Americas Rocky Mountain West

aspen

en plein air

My father spent over 50 years working at the Lazy Shamrock Ranch. Ultimately he became known as the master irrigator throughout the ranching community of the Blue River Valley. We would join him in the spring time when the snow melt run-off was at its highest, so that he could direct the water, spreading it across the meadows to give the grass a good soaking before the summer dryness would set in. In good years, a monsoon season would water the fields later in the season, so this gave a good start to the grass being able to thrive and feed the cattle. It was here that I had the space to work with a shotgun and create textural foundations to my paintings. This series was created in my favorite aspen groves. These areas were magic for me when I was growing up and to this day, when I think of my absolute favorite places, it is the aspen grove which brings me most peace. The shimmering light filtered through quaking leaves, the soft and smooth white bark, the familial nature of the groves and the wildflowers that abound all come together to make an ideal landscape. I would spend days lost in my imagination while wandering with the fairies and sprites who inhabit these groves. By this time in my life, I camped out alone to have the solitude to create these paintings of my most favorite place on earth.

Spring aspen painting by Lee Lee
Spring aspen painting by Lee Lee
Spring aspen painting by Lee Lee
Spring aspen painting by Lee Lee
Spring aspen painting by Lee Lee
Spring aspen painting by Lee Lee
Categories
Asia Mobilities Women

Weave

A Contemplative Measure of the Gains and Losses of our Global Times

Lee Lee oil painting of Burmese cotton weaver
Detail of a cotton weaver on Inle Lake in Burma

“Weave” is a collection of paintings reflecting the social, political and emotional manifestations of the ancient art of weaving.

These figurative paintings are the result of travels through China, Myanmar and South Carolina. Capturing weavers in their daily rituals, the paintings blend woman with machine in a celebration of the ancient art and a contemplative measure of the gains and losses of our global times.

The loud clang of industrial mass production is frequent in China these days. Well-known for its sweat shop style of labor, it’s an ominous forecast for the future.

Two years ago I was there and photographed a silk mill outside of Shanghai. Under fluorescent lights, the colors of steel and cement are cold, edges sharp. The women working the mill have their backs turned or their faces obscured. The fast and chaotic movement of the mass production is echoed through high energy brushstrokes.

In contrast, ancient forms of hand weaving are still practiced in places like Burma (Myanmar), where I recently spent time with a family of weavers. The experience left me with contradictions that I explored through paintings.

Their shop was the first floor of their home, stilted over Inle lake. The organic qualities of their massive hand hewn looms fill the room with the soft atmosphere of wood and cotton. They live under one of the most oppressive regimes today, which has resulted in a boycott of Myanmar by most countries. I wanted to reflect this existence of being completely cut off from the modern world by embedding the figures deep within the architecture of their looms. They are as visually separate from us, as they are culturally.

Closer to home, I explored the cotton mill in Anderson, South Carolina where my great grandmother was a spinner for most of her life. She took me there before she died, and I recorded the burnt out and collapsed structures as a perfect reflection of how manufacturing has continued to leave our borders over the years. The elegant brick structures have been abandoned for cheap labor and lower environmental standards found elsewhere in the world.

Offering an intimate portrayal of life in a “mill village”, I appropriated excerpts from my grandmother’s letters into burnt drawings of the mill. They reflect the difficulties of life during the industrial era and remind us that we are not so different from people elsewhere.

Categories
Asia Women

Inle Lake Cottonweavers

Their shop was the first floor of their home, stilted over Inle lake in Burma. The organic qualities of their massive hand hewn looms fill the room with the soft atmosphere of wood and cotton. They live under one of the most oppressive regimes today, which has resulted in a boycott of Myanmar by most countries. I wanted to reflect this existence of being completely cut off from the modern world by embedding the figures deep within the architecture of their looms. They are as visually separate from us, as they are culturally.

Oil painting of Inle Lake cottonweavers, Burma by Lee Lee
Oil painting of Inle Lake cottonweavers, Burma by Lee Lee
Oil painting of Inle Lake cottonweavers, Burma by Lee Lee
Oil painting of Inle Lake cottonweavers, Burma by Lee Lee
Lee Lee | Weave | Inle Lake, Burma
Oil on canvas | 26″ x 38″ | 2007
Categories
Asia Mobilities Women

Sou Chou Silk Mills

Weave: Silk Spinning in China

Oil painting of silk spinners in Sou Chou, Hina by Lee Lee

The loud clang of industrial mass production is frequent in China these days. Well-known for its sweat shop style of labor, it’s an ominous forecast for the future. In 2005 I photographed a silk mill outside of Shanghai. Under fluorescent lights, the colors of steel and cement are cold, edges sharp. The women working the mill have their backs turned or their faces obscured. The fast and chaotic movement of the mass production is echoed through high energy brushstrokes.

Lee Lee: oil painting of silk mill in China
Lee Lee: oil painting of silk mill in China
Lee Lee: oil painting of silk mill in China
Lee Lee | ‘Spin’ | Silk mill in Sou Chou, China 2015
Unraveling the silk cocoons and spinning the fine silk threads
oil on linen | 20″ x 36″ | 2007
Lee Lee | Spin
Ballpoint pen drawings on vellum collaged with Chinese newspaper
9″ x 11″ | 2007