Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Featured Artist: Jeesoo Lee


First of all, would you please introduce yourself to our readers that might not be familiar with you and your work?

Featured artist Jeesoo Lee with her installation, 2007
Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

My name is Jeesoo Lee. I have been living and working in Brooklyn since I came to New York City in 2006. I went to college in Seoul, South Korea and received a BFA in 2002, studied at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2004 and received my MFA from State University of New York at New Paltz in 2006. I studied painting in college but shifted my interest in graduate school to other forms of art such as installations to focus on three-dimensionality and site-specificness.

Jeesoo Lee, Her Wall, Mixed media installation, 96 x 264 x 96 inches, 2007.
Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

Jeesoo Lee, Summer_Simulacra, Mixed media installation, 160 x 260 x 350 inches, 2005-2006. Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

When and how did you get interested in art making?

I really don't know how exactly I got into the visual art world, but I do remember that I used to always making drawings on the backs of calendar pages. My parents left art materials with me whenever they had to leave home and I would fill the pages with colors and images so quickly. I had so much fun in my childhood expressing myself in this way. Now, I find myself here in New York and still making drawings with materials.

Currently, what type of job(s) you do besides making art?

I taught young children, worked in the film industry and also worked in a private printmaking studio in South Korea. Currently I am a full time artist in the US.

Please tell us a bit about your work in general. What media do you work in?

I am interested in both producing small drawings and sculptural reliefs for the wall and customizing these into large installations within architectural contexts into spaces.

Jeesoo Lee, Buttle, mixed media sewn collage, 25 x 27 inches, 2008.
Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee.

Jeesoo Lee, Flesh, mixed media on paper, 16 x 17 inches, 2008.
Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee.

In general, the fundamental ideas I pursue in my art stem from my impressions and awe of nature and the way it lives with us. Without necessarily being bounded by the defined terms/genres of painting, sculpture and installation, I enjoy participating in rebuilding on paper, in space, etc. what I perceive in society and in the world.

Jeesoo Lee, X, Mixed media installation, 144 x 204 x 96 inches, 2010 - In process
Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

What are the thoughts and inspirations behind the creation of your art installations? What is the specific message you strive to convey to your viewers?

Jeesoo Lee, Untitled for Abjection, Mixed media installation, 180 x 264 x 70 inches, 2006. Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

I am in a period where my art involves strong physicality and its aesthetic consequences as well as questions not only from reality but also from indirect experiences such as writings. For example, Untitled for Abjection, an installation which was completed in 2006, delivered the emptiness in my mind after visiting a part of Florida after the natural disasters that occurred as a result of Hurricane Katrina. At about the same time, I was very much appealed by a Julia Kristeva essay titled "Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection". The broken landscape left behind the feeling of an unknown and invisible spirit, and it was powerful and dramatic enough for me to abstract the moment into visuality. I don't really strive to convey a specific message to viewers which might sound strange. I would like them to have more freedom and time to imagine without limitations; to be encouraged by their own perspectives and understanding.

Could you discuss a bit your creative process? How does it all start, what techniques and materials do you use? From where do you find your material?

I start by making smaller pieces, and then I expand them to a wider and bigger scale when I need to. I apply this basic process to most of my works from collages to installations, where I enjoy orchestrating vortexes of fluid energy through the accretion of layers of everyday materials and detritus, including papers, vellum, mylar, ink and wire. I weave with calligraphic notations, instinctually coordinating dramatic trajectories of colors and wire, which map into visible threads of time. Some of the incorporated materials are found on the street or as garbage and recycled.

Jeesoo Lee, Character of Rain, Installation process. Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

Jeesoo Lee, Character of Rain, Mixed media installation, 156 x 336 x 48 inches, 2009. Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

Jeesoo Lee, Detail shot of Character of Rain, Mixed media installation, 156 x 336 x 48 inches, 2009. Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

What is the most interesting comment about your work you have heard from a viewer?

Baseera Khan, Assistant Curator at BRIC Rotunda Gallery, New York, commented:

'Lee weaves string and discarded objects to form abstracted architectural wall-scapes. Her process involves plucking, piercing, ripping, and scratching materials in order to accelerate their decay. The debris in her work speaks as much to the society that existed before a calamity as it does to the forces that tore it apart. This new landscape is one that is tragic and difficult to comprehend. Depictions of a natural disaster share a common attribute of Lee's work that is the dislocated objects of daily life. It is through witnessing the power of nature that we experience awe; in this way Jeesoo Lee's work is a reinterpretation of the sublime. The work of Jeesoo Lee breaks down our resistance to destruction by reformulating fragments into new compositions. Her work appears to preserve the presence of society by collecting and collaging the debris of the everyday and transforming it into massive installations that carry the eye across, beside, and inside the work.'

Jeesoo Lee, Debris, Mixed media installation, 120 x 156 x 40 Inches, 2008
Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

Jeesoo Lee, Detail shot of Debris. Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

Jeesoo Lee, Detail shot of Debris. Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

How have you handled the business side of being an artist? What are some of the techniques and skills that you have gained in the past and continue to learn or perfect?

This is actually hard to answer because I am not very good at thinking of the business side related to my work. I've learned a lot about fabrics and sewing technique but I do not think that it is enough to translate these skills to business. (laugh) However, I want to continue to practice sewing skills in order to explore more visual vocabularies.

Jeesoo Lee, The Box, thread on paper, 7 x 9 inches, 2009.
Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee.

Jeesoo Lee, Dead bird, mixed media sewn collage, 12 x 9 inches, 2009.
Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee.

Jeesoo Lee, Alchemist, Mixed media on wood, 48 x 80 x 7 inches, 2007.
Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee.

Are you represented by any commercial art galleries? Would you care to share your experience in approaching galleries about showing your work?

I am represented by Amy Simon Fine Art, Westport and Toomey Tourell Fine Art, San Francisco, CA. In addition, you can also find my works at Eugene Binder Gallery, Marfa, TX, Michael Steinberg Fine Art, New York, NY, and Dieu Donne, New York, NY.

Jeesoo Lee, Parrot, Mixed media on wood, 80 x 72 x 12 inches, 2008.
Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

Approaching commercial galleries hasn't been easy for me as a foreigner, however I always believe in what I am creating so it keeps me productive and passionate about art making. I believe that you just keep going and try not to lose what you have been pursuing through the past. Be patient and let things happen. Then, someone will find your work. Your work also needs to be found by the right someone.

Are you currently showing your work?

I am currently part of a three person exhibition at Amy Simon Fine Art, Westport, CT. What interests me about the show is that the works by each artist don't have much similarity, but I have found a great balance between them. The exhibition is on displayed at Amy Simon Fine Art through April 24th.

Jeesoo Lee, Untitled, Mixed media collage, 60 x 70 inches, 2009.
Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

Jeesoo Lee, Untitled, Mixed media on wood, 17 x 136 x 3 inches, 2007.
Image courtesy of Jeesoo Lee

Are you planning any exhibitions of your work in the near future?

My upcoming solo show will be conducted in Oregon State University Gallery, Portland, OR in October 2010.

Do you have website for interested readers to learn more about your work?

Please visit my website located at www.jeesoolee.com.