“Our stories live in a room, inside of a wall, in a corner, on the bed, on the roof, in the pool, in between tree leaves, out in the streets, through light and space. Space allows for architectural elements to exist, and our bodies, stories and lives give the space meaning and context. Relativity and dependence between the physical and spatial is crucial for their existence.”
Korea born artist Miyeon Lee creates paintings that are inspired by space and architectural forms but she adds depth and abstraction to highlight the way in which our lives give meaning to space. Her technique too refers to the way space is layered with meaning. Miyeon Lee is based in New York
Where do you find inspiration for your work? I pay close attention to what my eyes and mind respond to. I’m very drawn to Californian and Caribbean architecture, their climate and their ambience. These architectural elements provide excellent visual sources. The history/story of my friends and families inspire me to add a psychological layer to my works as well.
Tell us about your method? I start by masking off the brightest area of an image and putting down the first layer of graphite on the entire surface. Then I mask off the second brightest area, and put down the second layer of graphite. This same process is repeated until the painting is finished. This process creates layers of lines, layers of shapes, layers of tones, layers of time and layers of feelings. They are flattened, condensed and packed into one surface. Depth, mystery and vibrations are inserted in between the layers. At the end – a house, a room, a space appears.
How do you keep focused on doing something unique and true to yourself? By not letting myself get burnt out in working! It is very important to regularly empty my mind so that I can fill it up with new things again.
What sort of skills do you need to do your work? The ability to ‘see’. It’s a very broad term… but I think it’s crucial to be able to see what my intention towards my own painting is. It is like holding a camera and knowing what to film. Otherwise it just becomes a wondering shot. And having an ability to ‘make’ what I intend to create is equally important. This takes lots of practice and accumulation of knowledge in materials, effects, etc.
How did you make the leap to independent art? Being in the arts / being an artist was more of a natural path I followed than a choosing. I was always drawing and painting since I was really young. One different thing about now is that I have a room specifically dedicated for my creation, and I’m disciplined about going there.
Do you enjoy your work? Why? I do. My work feeds the curiosities and questions that I happen to have. There are thrill, focus and love in doing the research and studio practice, in the process of finding out and creating.
Do you have one tip/piece of advice for other aspirant creatives? Be honest to yourself and always, always listen to your own heart!