Susie Lee Continues to Evolve in Media and Influence

  • ANNAPOLIS, Maryland
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  • April 26, 2011

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"Still Lives: Passages," 39’ 31”. Hi-def video in framed LED TV. 2010 Inspired by Goya’s "Men Reading"

ANNAPOLIS, MD, April 19, 2011—With 2011 showings in New York City, NY, Los Angeles, CA, Kirkland, WA, Denver, CO, Baltimore, MD, and Bologna, Italy, Susie Lee’s work continues to expand to an even greater audience. Her work continues to gain acclaim, as she was the winner of the Stranger Visual Art Genius Award in 2010 and was selected as one of the recipients of the Northwest Contemporary Art Award by the Portland Art Museum in 2011.

Susie Lee’s use media continues to evolve, while maintaining a rich diversity evidence of the brilliant thinking that inspires her. Lee will be presenting video works in New York and Los Angeles this summer. She is installing a series of glass and light artworks through public commissions in Kirkland and the Baltimore Four Seasons.  Lee is collaborating with renowned ceramic artist, Akio Takamori on a children’s book. Lee is also the lead artist in a dance and digital media performance this coming fall. 

A look at Susie Lee’s video portraits shows the intensity, intelligence, and evolution in her artistic approach. Lee’s approach to these video works is contemplative and compassionate. These portraits are gentle and insightful looks at the relationship of the subject to the camera and lights in the field of portraiture, while at the same time creating a quietly powerful profile of the subject. By asking the subjects to hold poses for an extended period of time, as they would in photography, sculpture or painting studios, Lee recreates the time-honored tradition of formal posing portraiture.

Waiting to Grow, 17’ Hi-Def video in framed LED TV. 2010. Inspired by Picasso’ Child with Dove

Lee works with real-time video to equalize observational power between the viewer and the viewed. It’s not surveillance with intrusions, and it’s not performance with a captive audience. It is the experience of being able to watch another person intimately without needing to speak to fill the awkward silence.  Like Bill Viola’s work that evolve slowly and subtly over time, Lee’s narratives change slowly, rewarding the viewer with subtle shifts or changing glances. Yet, unlike the works of Robert Wilson or Bill Viola, the footage is not frozen, slowed down, or edited to glamorize effects, but rather, is realized as an unfolding of real time.

The length of time creates works of depth, offering something new each time they are viewed and capturing an intimacy in the subject that is not possible in other media. As a young girl moves her leg or an old woman moves her head, the viewer is drawn into an emotional connection with the subject. Less abstract than a captured moment in time, a viewer is drawn more deeply into the subject as they watch them over time, quietly posing for their portrait, blinking, taking breaths, thinking, being.

Lee’s portraits began with a series entitled “Still Lives," an installation in a long-term nursing facility that featured residents. Lee described the first body of work as a presentation of “the residents at stages in life that are already less in motion. The work hovers as nearly a still image and then, reveals a reality beyond the single snapshot. The accretion of quiet gestures marks time as physical integrity begins to wear down, focus fades in and out, and there is the struggle to maintain." The sensitivity and compassion with which Lee approaches her subject is evident in the openness with which the subjects reveal themselves over time.

Inspired by Goya’s Black paintings, works he completed in his 70s, these compositions echo his themes of aging, generations replaced and end of life. Jen Graves of The Stranger writes, “These works are quietly epic. . .All of the portraits find a dialogue--compositionally and emotionally--by these works of art, but the artifacts, positions, and gestures are uniquely the person within the portrait…” Picasso’s Child with Dove and Sargent’s portraits were the inspirations for the second body of work with youths.  Both artists present timeless insights into the energies and curiosities of children.

Commissioned portrait of Charles Gitnick. Hi-Def videos in framed LED TV. 2011. Inspired by Sargent’s "Artist Sketching"

Since December, M Contemporary has had two commissions for Lee’s portraits, as well as commissions for Lee’s work in other media. Samples of the video portraits are on display at M Contemporary’s gallery on International Circle in Baltimore’s Harbor East neighborhood.

M Contemporary is led by Mark Myers, who has been a private dealer and consultant for over 25 years. Myers seeks finely finished works with content, avoiding the ephemeral in favor of long term relevance and value. Myers works with a diverse range of artists in reputation and accomplishment, as well as imagery and content. In addition to working with private collectors, Myers recently worked with Legg Mason on a Caio Fonseca large scale commission piece for their new headquarters in Baltimore, MD.


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