Categories
.debris. Mobilities Slow Food

insect apocalypse

DOW chemical plant - landscape painting by Lee Lee
Aerial view of the DOW chemical plant in Texas
Silkscreen, sharpie, colored pencil, gouache & oxidized copper on paper

One of the most dangerous unspoken threats we are facing is the insect-apocalypse currently underway. As the foundation of ecological webs as well as an essential part of our food production, the disappearance of pollinators presents a grave situation, yet few speak of it. While creating studies of pollinators native to Maine, I sometimes feel inclined to cut them out to collage on various backgrounds. With the voids, I build collages that integrate reproductions of the DOW Chemical Plant landscape that I painted in 2009. Filling the voids of these bumble bee forms with the saturated textures of the original landscape speaks to the impacts of chemicals that fill our spheres. Even the word ‘pesticide’ reduces our perception of value by blanketing judgement across the whole insect world without recognition of the role that beneficial insects play in a balanced approach to agriculture.

watercolor of Bumble Bee by Lee Lee
insect apocalypse collage by Lee Lee
insect apocalypse collage by Lee Lee
insect apocalypse collage by Lee Lee
insect apocalypse collage by Lee Lee
Categories
.debris. Europe Migrations Mobilities Rocky Mountain West

Hybrid at Redline

Curatorial Statement
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.

The wide range of included media and the diverse origins of the participants are intended to incite a stimulating translation and critical examination of ongoing cultural conversations and personal experiences of the hybridization of our lives, expectations, ancestral backgrounds, geology, perceptions, identities, of immigration, and of both the geographic distance and human commonality of the artists.

Shaped by Kerrane’s personal ties with the included artists, Hybrid emerges from a reflective process of curatorial matchmaking. Working in sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, film and installation, the works of these two groups of artists both mirror and confront one another. Hybrid acknowledges and pays tribute to complex local experiences in a common global culture, reflecting Kerrane’s eighteen years of continually (re)crossing the Atlantic.

Artist’s Statement
The Irish arrived in the west as hard rock miners, and planted the seeds of industrialization that changed the face of our landscape and established the foundation of culture in our mountain towns. Even today, the old saloons carry an Irish flavor. This series looks at the long term, chemical impacts of a set of mines perched around the town of Leadville, at the headwaters of the Arkansas river. I was awarded a Terraphilia residency through the Colorado Art Ranch, where I had the opportunity to get to know the ecologist, Susan Tweit. She offered great insight into the nature of the river, and the transformation of the ecology after the grouping of mines upstream became a federal ‘Superfund’ site, wherein the pollution from the mines was mitigated. The mines had no outflow, so when the snow melts, all the passages fill up with water, which then overflows into the Arkansas River, killing all the insects and larvae in a flood of red-colored heavy metals from the mines. The drawings here were paired with a series of waterflies native to the region & drawn with red-tinged ink in a way that make them look like they were exploding.

drawing of the Leadville mines by Lee Lee
drawing of the Leadville mines by Lee Lee
drawing of the Leadville mines by Lee Lee
drawing of the Leadville mines by Lee Lee
drawing of the Leadville mines by Lee Lee
drawing of the Leadville mines by Lee Lee
drawing of the Leadville mines by Lee Lee
drawing of the Leadville mines by Lee Lee
drawing of the Leadville mines by Lee Lee
Lee Lee | Mines from Leadville, Colorado
Teastains, pencil, ink, gouache, charcoal & watercolor on Strathmore paper
11″ x 11″ | 2012 | Created on a Terraphilia residency hosted by the ecologist Susan Tweit in Salida, CO
Categories
Asia Slow Food Women

Intha Market

Inle Lake, Burma

These watermedia works on paper were created in Taos in the first year or so of Thatcher Gray’s life. They depict a meandering through the Intha market on Inle lake in Burma I took a decade earlier, when the country was considered to be on the cusp of genocide. Dominating the atmosphere is the official verbiage of Myanmar’s Military government, oppressing the space with the dingy palette of the newspaper. By 2010, I was hearing news of flat out genocidal acts being performed around the perimeter of the country by friends who were volunteering there as health workers. Their stories inspired me to reflect on the tensions felt by those who come from communities targeted; how it must feel to navigate this brutal society while maintaining an identity interwoven with traditional tribal practices. The expressions portrayed in the Intha Market series often seem tense, but as is the nature of markets, cultures may thrive in the face of oppression through the exchange and practice of culinary traditions. The ‘ghost’ paintings invoke a certain amount of freedom for me, and I consider them to be as important to the work as a whole, together with the sides I actively produced. The lack of newspaper and colors that drift unconfined by additional lines through the handmade paper acquired in the market. Some drawings contain the first scribblings of Thatcher Gray, who was just starting to learn how to hold markers in ways that he could imitate mom.

Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Intha Market, Burma watercolor by Lee Lee
Lee Lee | Intha Market, Inle Lake, Burma 2005
Mixed Media including watercolor, sharpie, pencil, ballpoint pen and gouache on local handmade paper, collaged with Myanmar’s official newspaper
roughly 11″ x 11″ | 2010 Taos
Categories
Americas Women

Vrnda

Iraq war mom - mixed media drawing by Lee Lee

When I was pregnant, I had the opportunity to listen to one of the impassioned speeches given by Vrnda Noel in Denver. Mother of a combat medic in Iraq, she shared deeply emotive stories of what was happening there based on letters written home by her son. She had made him promise to write about his experiences in minute detail. Ultimately this ended up being cathartic for him as there were many traumatic situations that he was able to let go, and then forget. The speech she was giving was during an anti-war rally outside our local senators’ offices and I was struck by the expressions of love, sorrow and fear that passed through her delicate features. After his return to the US, they created a number of participatory creative projects that spoke to the impacts of war and the process of healing the mental wounds from it. Empty army boots and civilian shoes installed in Civic Center Park represented the growing death toll on both sides of the conflict. The combat paper project helped Vets transform by encouraging them to purge frustrations by destroying uniforms, then use the pulp to create artworks. Their practices inspired some aspects of the community work I’ve developed over the years since.

This series of portraits was included in the very first exhibition I had after Thatcher Gray was born. I created them while he was in my womb, and the process allowed me to consider this relationship between a mother and her war torn son. Shreds of oil paintings that I had torn apart with a shotgun were used as the base of a collage, which I then laid hot coals atop to produce a speckling of charred board across the picture plain. Pencil drawings depict the range of expressions that passed through Vrnda as she spoke with determination about her love for her son, and as an extension, all of the other sons affected by war.

Iraq war mom - mixed media drawing by Lee Lee
Iraq war mom - mixed media drawing by Lee Lee
Iraq war mom - mixed media drawing by Lee Lee
Categories
Asia

Confined shrines

As my pregnant belly swelled through the second trimester, I resided at the Ragdale Foundation on an awarded residency to work on a series of mixed media works depicting the confined shrines I photographed in Myanmar 3 years prior. I was struck by how many Buddhist shrines were kept in cages under lock and key and felt the images were a poignant reflection of the political climate. Some of the works contain Burmese newspaper collaged in. They were created with a xerograph process which involves transferring xerox copies, in this case of high contrast photographs of the cages that surrounded the shrines. Atop the transfers, Embedded within the cages are the golden shrines, well tended aside from being caged.

mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
mixed media painting from Myanmar by Lee Lee
Categories
Americas

Carolina lintheads

My great grandmother was a spinner in South Carolina 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’, where inhabitants were often referred to as ‘lintheads’, 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.

oil painting on burlap of abandoned cotton mill by Lee Lee
oil painting on burlap of abandoned cotton mill by Lee Lee
oil painting on burlap of abandoned cotton mill by Lee Lee
oil painting on burlap of abandoned cotton mill by Lee Lee
Lee Lee | lintheads
oil on burlap
36″ x 28″ | 2007
“Other school mates called them Niggers because they were part Indian and so very dark.My Mother never told me this.I think this is one reason,she let other people intimidate her,all through Life.Plus her Perents kept her out of School until her younger Sister was old enough to go.That way they could walk together. The had Primmer(same as Kinder Garten)when she got into the First grade,she was 8 yrs.old. She made straight A’s,all the way through the 8th grade,then her Family took her out of School to go to work in the Mill to help support the Family This has always bothered her.I told her than should not bother her.She had 3 Sons that got her smarts and their Daddy’s stong Back,they were not afraid of work.One with out the other does not function very well.”
“Sene and Lum’s eldest Child was named Roy.He worked in a Textile Plant all of his life,had 3 Daughters and was the first to die.Lois was the 2nd.child…Milton was next,Textile,also.After retirement,became a Deputy Sheriff.The Story is that you should never put a Gun and Holster on some People.It changes their entire Personality.He had 2 Sons,the Dr.dropped the Instuments on the firs Baby’s Head and killed it.The next Son lived to be 16 and died with Cancer.We were not familiar with Cancer back then.”
“Mema is the last of her 9 Brothers and Sisters. None of them lived to be her age,neither Perents. She was always sickly,never walking until she was 3.The sister that she was the closest was Kathleen.They played together,constantly …They lived in a House on the Mill Village that was built on very high Brick Pillars You could walk around under it.They would build a play house by drawing off the rooms with a stick in the dirt.They filled each room with broken dishes,vases,back then there were not many things being thrown away.They piled up wood for their stove.An older Brother (Milton)told Mema to go ask Granny for a match to light their stove. Granny came under the HOuse and gave Milton a sound thrashing,he knew better,Mema and Kathleen were too young.”
“Lum could not read and write.He boarded a School Teacher in exchange for teaching him.The Teacher was amazed with his ability to work with numbers.When Lum retired from the Mill,He was Asst.Superintendant of the Mill.A very well liked Man.He suffered so much from Asthma and died when he was my age.”
“Lum and Sene,always lived on the Mill Village.He was born in Pelzer (in Piedmont Sene),which is a Mill Town 16 miles from here.His Mother and Father died when he was very young.An older Brother reared him.He went to work in the Mill when he was 9 yrs.old.Long before child labor laws.Lum bought the Farm where I was born and my Daddy Cecil was a Share Cropper.I remember when I was a Child, Lum would come every Sunday,he and my Daddy would walk over the Fields and discuss things

Quotes from letters written by my grandmother, Bonnie Jean Cromer
In the collection of Eron Johnson, Denver
Lee Lee | lintheads | 11″ x 11″ | May 2007
Xerograph, charcoal, pencil and tar paper collaged with burnt Strathmore paper
Categories
Rocky Mountain West

brand

Cattle branding - pencil drawing by Lee Lee
Preparing the tag | pencil on cardstock | 4.25″ x 5.25″
Cattle branding - pencil drawing by Lee Lee
Nostril pinch | pencil on cardstock | 4.25″ x 5.25″
In the collection of the McFaddin Ranch, Texas
Cattle branding - pencil drawing by Lee Lee
Roped | pencil on cardstock | 4.25″ x 5.25″
In the collection of the McFaddin Ranch, Texas
Cattle branding - pencil drawing by Lee Lee
Taggin’ | pencil on cardstock | 4.25″ x 5.25″
Cattle branding - pencil drawing by Lee Lee
Dogged | pencil on cardstock | 4.25″ x 5.25″
In the collection of the McFaddin Ranch, Texas
Cattle branding - pencil drawing by Lee Lee
Castration | pencil on cardstock | 4.25″ x 5.25″
In the collection of the McFaddin Ranch, Texas