Artist Statement

Spanning decades, the themes explored in my work weave visual arts practices into community-based frameworks of eco-cultural preservation and wild land restoration. Stemming from my own ancestry, I started by looking at legacies left by my forefathers, which led to an exploration of genocide and long-term impacts of war. When my son was born, I became obsessed with how we grow and consume food, which led to a deep understanding of the ecologic impacts of a mobilities-centered culture and how the paths of contemporary mobilities were formed during colonialism.

Having settled in Maine for the past few years, I’ve been looking specifically to my ‘new’ geography, while digging into the past. My ancestor, John Howland was one of the first Englishmen to set up a trading post in Maine, so again my work confronts some of the cultural foundations laid by my forefathers. I’m currently exploring ties between Acadia and Haiti as contextualized in the colonial history that triggered the mobilities-centered culture we exist in today. European colonists severed northeastern landscapes by felling timber to make ships then build plantations through the Caribbean. Decimating indigenous communities in both places and dislocating people from Africa to serve as slaves, my work explores how this external social structure persists today. I’m interested in the exchange of how local populations are confronting impositions within neo-colonial practices. Challenging these dominating structures, I look towards indigenous relationships with the land to build community based creative collaborations with the community of species therein. The re-establishment of indigenous foodways is an important part of restorative efforts and I believe that seeds, as the foundation of restoration, should remain open sourced and freely shared. I spend a lot of time thinking of ways to cultivate a systems-based understanding of the relationships between species, challenging the fragmented index developed by Linnaeus which dominates nature-based curricula in the west. I collect open sourced visual material from which I work directly, and integrate into regionally specific curriculum. Instead of focusing on the demise of the environment, I have chosen to look towards cultivating the healing of the land through community based, restorative works.

Photo by Michael Gadlin – at work in Chateau de la Napoule, France

Curriculum Vitae

Upcoming Engagements

January: Swen Moun: Plant Healing for the Ghetto Biennale, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
June-July Residency at Green Olive Arts, Morocco to study the origins of the Acequia system practiced in New Mexico
August Residency at Watershed Arts, Galway, Ireland

Recent Exhibitions

2021: Return to the Upper Rocky Mountain Steppe
Establishment of the SEEDden to focus on arid urban and steppe ecologies
SEED disperse presentation for the Society of Conservation Biologists, Kigali, Rwanda
Public Engagement strategies for wildland restoration presentation for the Ecolinguistics conference, University of Liverpool, England
Featured artist at the The Nature of Cities Festival

2017-2020: Maine
Cultivated a network of living SEED libraries & developed seasonal creative engagements around the Blue Hill Peninsula in Maine: Sow Dry Seed, ¡Pollinate!, HugelCULTURE & birdSEED in collaboration with the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, Halcyon Grange, the Open Air Arts Initiative & the Penobscot Alewife Committee (among others).

Mountains beyond Mountains | Restoration Liberation, Ghetto Biennale, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

.debris. Integrating Environment & Health, National Council on Science & the Environment, Washington DC
Established the SEED Barn as a platform of community engagement at the intersection of art & ecology
SEED :: disperse, Curated installation of ecology based works for the Ghetto Biennial, Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Hybrid – Residency & exhibition, Community Arts Center, Letterkenny, Ireland
Pollinators, Plants + People Featured artist at Neo Rio, hosted by LEAP: Land Environment & Art of Place in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument, Wild Rivers Recreation area, New Mexico
.debris. International Marine Conservation Congress, Society of Conservation Biologists in St. John’s, Newfoundland
Sanctuary Speaker Series: Marine Debris Project with Environmental Artist, Lee Lee Collaboration with Save Our Shores and NOAA at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, Santa Cruz, CA
With the Earth, Gallery Route One, Point Reyes Station near the National Seashore, CA
SEED: Disperse, curated exhibition at the Dairy Arts Center, Boulder CO

The Knew Normal curated by Nancy Zastudil, 516 Arts, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Moana ‘opala, collaboration with the Hawai’i Wildlife Fund, Maui, Hawai’i
.debris. culmination installation with Art Relief International at Thapae East, Chiang Mai, Thailand
La Vie de Choses, in conjunction with the Biennial of the Americas, Processus Institute, Denver CO
Aesthetics of Protest, AIDD (Action Intervention Daily Deployment), London UK
Acequia: 300 years of community water on the Los Lovatos ditch, The Distillery, Taos New Mexico

Cosmobilities: How new technologies change cities, cultures and economies, curated by Aslak Aamot Kjærulff, Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark
Do You See What I See? Exhibition at the Chateau de la Napoule, France
Shifting Ecologies, The Painting Center, NY
Over the Edge, Paperworks Unbound: Monarch, Curated by Claire Gilman of the Drawing Center, WAH, NY

Select Residencies, Awards & Publications

Awarded project grant for artists from the Maine Arts Commission and Individual relief grant by the Kindling Fund

Awarded Best Landscape Design by Maine Homes Design & published by Downeast Magazine

Envisioning Networked Urban Mobilities published by Routledge
.debris. disruptions, cartage created in collaboration with the Endocrine Disruption Exchange presented at the first African Marine Waste Conference, Port Elizabeth South Africa

Contested creativities in Haiti’s Ghetto Biennale article by Peter Haffner, Art in the Public Sphere Volume 5 #2 & Reprinted in the Ghetto Biennial catalog released 2017
Santa Cruz area children assist with global art exhibit, by Kara Guzman,
Art event to assist marine conservation, by Aimee Cornett both published around the installation with NOAA, Santa Cruz Sentinel

Surface Arts London Collaborative Residency, Rumpueng Arts Space, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Shaping Ocean Plastic into Awareness, interview with Paul Epstein for Bay Nature Magazine
Sacred Soil, Awarded 1st place for foreign projects, Ghetto Biennial, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
Lancement official de la Biennale ‘Kreyol, vodou, lakou’ published in Le Nouvelliste
Residency at the Lazy Shamrock Ranch to develop work regarding climate change in the Rocky Mountain West

.debris. emerging modalities on international collaboration, youth workshop with VAST, Thimphu, Bhutan
Plasticity, published in RISDxyz magazine
Welcome to the Anthropocene: From Global Challenge to Planetary Stewardship, presentation for the Association of Environmental Studies & Sciences, Pace University, NY
Collisions: Haiti & the US, presentation for the Society of Caribbean Studies, University of Glasgow, Scotland
Art as Catalyst: the butterfly project published in Atención! San Miguel d’Allende, Mexico
Official delegate with Slow Food USA to the Terra Madre conference, Turin, Italy
Water Matters, Amigos Bravos at the Santa Fe Community Foundation, featured on Santa Fe Public Radio, NM
Art Moves, residency & exhibition at PlatteForum, Denver CO

Highlights 2005-2013

Our Global Village, curated by Mary Horrocks, The Dairy Center for the Arts, Boulder CO
Bridging the Gap- New exhibit tells immigrants’ unheard stories article by Aimee Heckel, Boulder Daily Camera
Message in a Bottle, performance at Aragorn’s workshop, Trellis Bay, British Virgin Islands
Extreme Backyard Gardeners by Emily Beenen, & A Year in Grandpa’s Garden (2012) published in edible Santa Fe
One Million Bones – Instigated by Naomi Natale, installation on the National Mall, Washington DC

ISEA2012: Machine Wilderness, Re-envisioning Art, Technology & Nature, curated by Nancy Zastudil, Taos, NM
An Artful Adventure in Sustainable Living by Lyn Bleiler, Eco Source Magazine
Terraphilia, Residency with ecologist Susan Tweit, Colorado Art Ranch, Salida CO
Hybrid, exchange with Irish artists, Redline Contemporary Art, Denver
At RedLine, Colorado and Irish artists take on each others’ lands review by Ray Rinaldi, The Denver Post
Women & Body, exhibitions at Kepco Plaza Gallery Museum in Seoul & Gwangju Cultural Foundation’s MediaCube 338 in Gwangju, South Korea, catalog published
Howl: Invoking Change, publication of permaculture principals by the University of New Mexico Press

Borders & Boundaries, Harwood Art Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico
The Plastic Flow: From Waste to Waves article by Camilla Thiele for the United Nations Environment Programme
Nature: Working! A Slow Food Denver collaboration, 910Arts, Denver CO
Genocide & Visual Representation, WCA Art & Social Justice Conference, Saint Louis MO

Vanishing Pollinators, WEAD installation at Bioneers, San Rafael, CA
Bleed, installation for the Colorado Environmental Film Festival, Golden CO
Hundreds Fill Santa Fe Riverbed To Bring Attention To Climate Change interview on our participation in the 350.org creative action by Jessica Dyer, Albuquerque Journal
Art & Agriculture, Columbia Center for the Arts, OR

Extinction: Artists Respond, exhibition at the Denver Botanic Gardens, catalog published
Reap: The Environmental Unsustainability of the American Food Machine, C Emerson Fine Art, St Petersburg FL
Bitter but Beautiful Harvest: Lee Lee’s stark style captures anger and elegance among environmental degradation feature article by Lennie Bennett, St Petersburg Times

The Cradle Project, curated by Naomi Natale,
‘Cradle’ Hopes to Nurture Africa – Albuquerque Journal

Cultivating Compassion, Site specific installation and presentation for the International Conference of Genocide Scholars, Sarajevo, Bosnia
10 “Glocal” Artists Interpret Genocide, curated exhibition at the Mizel Museum, Denver
On the Subject of Genocide by Bonnie Ganglehoff, SouthwestArt Magazine
Sudan’s faces of suffering by Erika Gonzalez, The Rocky Mountain News Spotlight
Reflections of Reality, by Julie Dugdale, 5280 Magazine
Art exhibit a testament to triumphs of survivors by Cindy Rodriguez, The Denver Post

Resilience: expressions of healing and remembrance by survivors, Rocky Mountain Survivors Center
The Dead Weight of Complacency, book & exhibition panels published by the Mizel Musem, Denver
Cambodia, published in CALYX, A Journal of Art & Literature by Women

Conversations: ‘In-Visible engagement’ Yangon street performers, Myanmar

Born: 1975, Denver CO, USA
BFA painting, Rhode Island School of Design, 1996
303.570.3152 – lee-lee <a> virtualvoices.org
www.Lee-Lee.com & Collaborative works: www.virtualvoices.org