Lee Lee



Projects Underway


Consuming Plastic
View paintings

Chateau de la Napoule, France
February 2014

The way we consume plastic has become pervasive all over this world. In quiet ways, the material passes through our lives with little or no attention to where it goes after it passes through our sphere. It is familiar, too familiar, so that is has distorted our notions of value and waste.

This series explores the common ways which plastic passes through our lives. The situations are familiar to us all, even as the environments may be foreign. “Transportation” is represented by a dug out canoe traveling through the Okavango Delta in Botswana. A “Restaurant” is a street stall in Mandalay, Burma. The “Toystore” is on a boat in the floating market in the Mekong Delta, and “Housing” is a lakeside community made of recycled material in Cambodia. The range of situations reflects how wide spread our consumption of plastic really is.

right: Restaurant - Burma, Housing - Cambodia, Transportation - Botswana. Watermedia, oil and found plastic collage on repurposed foamcore

Plastic Ocean

Learn about the Plastic Ocean Project
Plastic Ocean is an interactive installation used to engage participants about the problems presented by plastic. It explores how single use plastics are polluting our bodies and trashing the planet, while questioning misplaced notions of disposability.

La Napoule Art Foundation
"Do You See What I See"
Themed Residency at the Clews Center for the Arts in Southern France, October - November 2012

Dedicated to preserving the legacy of Henry and Marie Clews and promoting art that serves the greater good, La Napoule Art Foundation seeks to nurture and inspire artistic talent, while fostering the creative process as a means of advancing international understanding. The Fall 2012 residency & exhibition will challenge accomplished artists to create a work or body of work designed intentionally to appeal to children. While intended to engage this younger audience, showcased works will be created with the same technical expertise, aesthetic rigor and emotional power of fine art exhibited for adults. The artists’ goal will be to transcend all ages.

Support provided by the Puffin Foundation

Learn more about the problem of Ocean Gyres & Garbage Patches

right: Alewives - Blue Whale Family: plastic collage on watercolor paintings

Installing work at La Napoule - photo: Michael Gadlin


Nourish is a multifaceted project which seeks to understand the way we grow and consume food.

Starting with the impacts of our industrial food machine, a series of paintings were created to explore the environmental consequences of imposing ourselves on the land. As a counterpoint to the problems caused by industrial agriculture, solutions are presented through educational works about developing technologies built around the ideas of sustainable agriculture. The third arm of this project reflects on the resilience demonstrated by people around the world who are finding ways to maintain traditions in the face of a globalization which tears at the social fabric of our communities.

Installation at the Ghetto Biennial
December 2013 - Port-Au-Prince, Haiti
Through the common language of food, we can explore creative skills demonstrated by women in the Grand Rue neighborhood. Food prepared slowly, with love, offers comfort and empowerment to those who are nourished by it. It is a cultural foundation, maintained primarily by women, which acts as a strong glue that holds community together in ways that maintain an important sense of identity. By following individual women on their paths of procuring and preparing the nourishment, I aspire to make visible these acts of love which are often overlooked. As we prepare traditional meals together, I would like to learn from the women who demonstrate love through nourishment. Through the Biennial, we will host performative dinners which will be the foundation for discourse on traditional and sustainable food models as practiced in Port Au Prince. In the process, I will be recording the traditional preparation methods in order to preserve their wisdom. The final installation will include transcribed recipes interspersed with portrayals of the women who maintain food traditions as well as an interpretation of the histories out of which these traditions grow.

Grandpa's Garden
Small scale solutions & emerging technologies

Tales of Thatcher Gray
A Year in Grandpa's Garden seeks to educate children with solutions to some of today’s biggest environmental problems which are caused by the industrial food machine. This body of work follows the development of a permaculture garden by Thatcher Gray and Grandpa. Important solutions stem from growing food in a sustainable way that involves the next generation. Exploring the importance of composting, gray water recycling & filtration through wetlands, habitat construction & maintenance, seed saving, biodiversity and nourishment, Thatcher Gray learns to be conscious of impacts we have on our surroundings. Peter T. Leonard (Grandpa) is a master gardener who focuses on a return to tradition while incorporating new developments in polyculture, aquaponics and permaculture. He is writing haiku to compliment the paintings. The work is available online with expanded explanations and links specific to the subjects addressed, and may be viewed at TalesOfThatcherGray.com

12.12: "It is a charming account of three generations working together to create a utopian family haven that speaks to global responsibility"
from An Artful Adventure in Sustainable Living by Lyn Bleiler – Eco Source Magazine

7.12: A Year in Grandpa's Garden - Edible Santa Fe
Featuring watercolors on Permaculture


May 31 - July 19, 2013: Urban Earth
Downtown Aurora Visual Arts Center, CO
This exhibition highlights the importance of reconnecting people and their environment through sustainable urban landscapes.
Opening Reception: May 31, 4-8pm

10.12: Slow Food USA delegate to the Terra Madre conference - Turin, Italy
Synopsis: Global Perspectives on Localized Food Movements

9.27.12: ISEA2012: Machine Wilderness - Reinvisioning Art, Technology & Nature.

right: Carrot - Bee - Zucchini - Ladybug with carrot flowers and seeds (detail) - watermedia, tea, beet & red cabbage stain

The Environmental Un-sustainability of the
American Food Machine



Bitter but beautiful Harvest
Lee Lee's stark style captures anger and elegance among environmental degradation.
by Lennie Bennett, St Petersburg Times


Exhibition Highlights:
Natural/Constructed Spaces - The Painting Center, NY, 2012
Taos Contemporary - The Metro Center for Visual Art, Denver CO, 2012
- 910 Arts, Denver, 2011
Vanishing Pollinators - WEAD installation at the Bioneers Conference, 2010
Art & Agriculture - The Columbia Arts Center, 2010
Extinction - Denver Botanic Gardens, 2009
REAP - C Emerson Fine Arts, St Petersburg FL, 2009


"Lee Lee's silvery gray Crop Circles provides an aerial view of cultivated agricultural land seemingly through a rain screen, as though the blurred landscape is disintegrating beneath us"
- Curatorial statement by Galen Cheney & Marianne Van Lent for Natural/Constructed Spaces at the Painting Center, NY

right: Rain - Oil Refinery, Commerce City (detail) watercolor, conte & oil
Ghost: Abandoned Slaughterhouse - watermedia & tar on shotgunned collage
Crop: acryllic on canvas

Resilience in the face of Globalization


Starting with stone lithographs of lush forest, these mixed media works on paper were truck-tracked with fresh tar, then torn into small squares. They serve as a foundation that speaks to the situation imposed on the Maya: pushed off their land and treated like slaves on plantation style agricultural production facilities owned by multinational corporations. They fill US demands for cheap commodities which comes at a severe cost to both people and the environment. The texture of tar is an echo of the continuing destructive influence of these corporations. Tar is made from oil which also makes up the petrochemicals used in the style of agriculture that is decimating the environment.

Somehow, Mayan culture is not decimated. They maintain an incredible dedication to tradition, working in harmony with the environment. Ancient customs are manifested through the colorful and intricate weavings which are worn with pride. These portraits are of Mayan women from the highlands market in Chichicastenango. Exploring a wide range of human emotion from being weary and hurt to looking forward with hope, the vignettes are intended to explore the breadth and range of emotional textures in this community.

Dairy Center for the Arts
Our Global Village
May - June, 2013 - Opening reception May 10
2590 Walnut Street, Boulder, CO

Bridging the Gap - New exhibit tells immigrants' unheard stories by Aimee Heckel, Boulder Daily Camera

Borders & Boundaries
October 2012
Harwood Art Center, Albuquerque NM

Biennial of the Americas
2010 - Denver

right: espera - tar, sharpie, watercolor & pencil over torn lithograph


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.

2350 Arapahoe Street, Denver CO 80205
August 11 – September 30, 2012

At RedLine, Colorado and Irish artists take on each others' lands
by Ray Rinaldi for the Denver Post, 19 August 2012

Colorado Art Ranch - Terraphilia Residency
June, 2012 - Salida CO

View work created on the residency
The Hybrid work was developed around the long term ecological impacts of hardrock mining on the Arkansas river. The bulk of the miners who came out west were from Ireland and have had a lasting imprint on the culture here.

right: Maid of Erin mine & Stringtown mine, Leadville CO - tea, graphite, ink on paper