Being an artist is a talent that takes time and dedication to perfect. Although it might seem as if succeeding as an artist is an impossible task, some lucky individuals have found success in this field. One such artist is Stephanie S. Lee.
Born in South Korea, Stephanie S. Lee studied at the Busan Art High School. After moving to America in her teens, she went on to earn a BFA from the Pratt Institute. Stephanie has been selected and invited as a participating artist nationwide at many art fairs including Scope Art, Spectrum Miami Art Show, Fountain Art Fair and Affordable Art Fairs. She is an active member of the New York Society of Women Artists (founded in 1925) and Korean American Contemporary Arts, Ltd. Moreover, Stephanie runs the Piermont Flywheel Gallery with fellow artists, and is also a curator of an artist group called The Drawing Room.
As an artist and curator, Stephanie has held many exhibitions across the U. S. and overseas, and has been awarded on numerous occasions for her exceptional artwork. She is also a teaching artist at the Flushing Town Hall and is currently teaching Korean Folk Art Painting in the Queens area.
Recently, Stephanie spoke to the Examiner about her experiences working as a teacher and artist:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): How and when did you decide to become an artist?
Stephanie Lee (S.L.): I’ve worked as a graphic designer for many years and art was always part of me. My first exhibition as a professional artist started in 2013.
M.M.: Growing up, which artists and styles interested you?
S.L.: I was born and raised in South Korea until my high school years, so most of Korean art inspired my root. Especially folk color paintings of Korea called, Minhwa, deeply influenced my current works. Also Henri Matisse and Rene Magritte’s philosophy and art impresses me.
M.M.: How would you describe your work and what inspires it?
S.L.: I take symbolic, symmetrical, and decorative characteristics of Korean folk art and employ traditional mediums such as Korean mulberry paper, color pigments, black ink, to paint natural and modern objects. In my recent ‘Emerging Scape’ series, I do works comparing the tradition with the modern to show the contrast of “the old” and “the new” by juxtaposing them. I want to show that while the objects of desire may have metamorphosed with passage of time, the undying desires of human beings – wealth, health, beauty, knowledge, and accumulation of fame- never withered, and are everlasting. However, extravagant objects in my paintings are not employed to reveal the negative aspects of materialism. Rather, it is an interpretation of how these materialistic yearning of human kind can be a positive element in modern society if they are employed to urge people to do their earnest best to obtain the “it.” Using similar outlay and composition of the traditional folk art of the past times, I suggest that the ideal life that we all yearn for is not unattainable and can easily be found in one’s own mundane daily life. Once we, the people of the modern society, start to discover and attain our wishes in small things within our surroundings, perhaps we may be less occupied and more contended and appreciative of our current state.
M.M.: Are there any mediums and/or styles that you haven’t worked with yet but hope to soon?
S.L.: Very large scale paintings to fill the entire wall or three dimensional work which has an Asian touch – such as scroll and folding wall screen – to play with spaces so the viewer can extend range to feel artwork.
M.M.: To date, what has been the most rewarding experience involving being an artist?
S.L.: To become a sole decision maker and have full responsibility of my own work. I can always be surrounded by art is a definite plus.
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become an artist?
S.L.: Be patient, be consistent and be diligent. Make something you are really proud of, then don’t be afraid.
M.M.: Are there any upcoming projects and/or events that you would like to mention?
S.L.: I’ll be having a two solo exhibition in 2016. One at the Piermont Flywheel Gallery in March and one at the Ridgewood Library in July.
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To learn more about Stephanie S. Lee visit her official website and Instagram. To learn more about her artist-run Piermont Flywheel Gallery, see its official website.