Artist and designer Christine Lee will give a talk at the ASU Art Museum this Tuesday evening as a part of ASU's Crafting a Continuum Visiting Artist Series. Lee works with salvaged materials to create sculptural installations that have been displayed across the United States.
We caught up with her to talk about her art practice and to get a sneak peak of some of the things she'll be addressing tomorrow night at ASU Art Museum.
Can you share a bit about the guiding ideas behind your artistic practice?
I tend to work with materials that are considered disregarded or mundane to explore their potential so that they can be reintroduced to society and reused. I treat these materials as precious and I am conscious of the waste that I generate while working with them. I also try to reduce the amount of toxins I am exposed to whether it be adhesives or finishes that I use.
How do you usually find the materials you work with?
I can find the materials locally at places where they have remnants, excess or scrap materials, or I can seek out companies where they generate large quantities of excess materials.
What's the process like when you are creating something? -- do you usually start with an idea and seek out materials for the execution? Or do you start with materials and think "how can I create something from this"?
Usually I am drawn to a material but may not know yet what I will do with it so I will experiment with it and observe how it can transform. Usually the configurations I create lead to ideas for how the material can be applied towards functional or sculptural works.
What is your artistic background like? How did you come to work with materials in the way that you do now?
During my undergraduate studies, I started as a science major for the first two years then switched to art and took different classes such as printmaking, graphic design etc.. However the area that really peaked my interested was furniture design and woodworking. Afterward I apprenticed for a furniture maker then I applied to study under Wendy Maruyama who is the head of the Furniture design and Woodworking program at San Diego State University. While at SDSU I worked on functional and sculptural pieces and I still continue to work back and forth between these areas.
Do you see your work as a direct statement about waste in our society or does the process come more from a personal desire to seek alternatives?
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Our society's pattern of over-production and waste is clear. Its natural for me to consider the reuse of materials and I try to present positive alternatives to material use through my work and my practice rather than condemning messages.
If you'd like to hear more, Christine Lee's talk is open to the public at the ASU Art Museum this Tuesday, November 13 at 6:30pm.