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The Art of Sharon Lee
May 6, 2008 - Emily Dimov-Gottshall
Recently, I was at the Blair County Arts Foundation (BCAF) and was able to see one of Sharon Lee’s art pieces up close. Her work is very engaging both in color and subject matter. I wanted to find out more about her and understand what her work means to her as well as understand the deeper meaning of her art.
EDG: When and how did you first become interested in art?
EDG: How long have you been painting?
EDG: Who or what influences your art?
EDG: What else do you do besides paint?
EDG: Why did you decide to create paintings with nature?
EDG What do you think your paintings are trying to convey?
EDG: Do you have a special painting?
EDG: Regarding artistic style and attributes of the genre, what makes that a Sharon Lee painting?
SL: color palette, stylized drawing, and the layers of the painting that are developed by working on the negative spaces first.
EDG: What is it about your art that makes it different than other artworks?
SL: Although the ideas I have do not seem so radical to me, I realize that I am more vulnerable in my paintings than many others are (for instance people who do landscapes, still lives or portraits). I try to have a "meaning" to each painting.
EDG: What makes this kind of painting "good" to you?
EDG: Why did you choose to create paintings in this style?
SL: No choice, it just comes out that way
EDG: Recently, I attended the BCAF art show “Oh, so Big” and saw your piece "Almost Dead". I was intrigued by the imagery, color and obviously the message. As I viewed the piece, I felt drawn in by the colors and was surprised to read the message on the piece. It's obviously about racism and how this gets passed down by generation to generation without quite dying away. My question is, how does an artist approach a subject like this without fear of offending the viewer? In other words, have you ever altered a piece to be less intimidating, because the audience might confuse the meaning or intention?
For myself, I found this piece interesting in it's use of color and the sculptural elements. I feel the piece asks a question to the viewer...do words die? Are they as powerful as we give them credit? Do we ignore the past or try to understand it and learn from it?
SL: The thing about art is that each person brings hers / his own history into the viewing thus making everyone's take on a work of art unique. Yes you could say that piece is about racism because it uses a racist word but my intention is actually more about words, about how they can hurt, maybe how we can create a world where words that denigrate people in any manner religious, racist, sexual, political can lose their place in our language. I also wanted to comment on the act of burying a word-it's a common mentality that if we "get rid" of the words that describe a problem the problem itself will disappear. There are several meanings to the piece and if you asked me tomorrow what my intention was in creating it I would probably have still another thought beyond what I have said today.
As far as doing pieces without offending people, well first off when I create art I am not thinking about the viewer. Because I am not trying to sell my artwork in mainstream ways such as crafts shows or through interior designers I do not have to consider the audience. This is a double edge sword though as I have to do other things to supplement my income. This allows me freedom not to consider my audience. Now I don't want to say that I don't care about the viewer-I would not show pieces if I did not care about other peoples opinions but the showing and creating of art (for me) is two different entities. I do know people will be offended about some pieces. That is not why I do things that can be considered offensive but it is a result of not considering the audience while it is made. It is not easy to create personal and sometimes offensive work. I had to let go of many things such as "What will people say", "What will people think of me". My art is what I am thinking of and not censored except in the case where it would hurt some one close to me (like my daughter) I try to keep it personal so the damage is all about me not the people closest to me. In answer to "have you ever altered a piece to be less intimidating?" the answer is a resounding "No". I'm not a mean intended person, I'm just painting things as I am experiencing them. There will always be someone who will be bothered by my work. I accept that.
Hermit of Halfmoon Valley
SL: I have recently shown work (on my website) at www.sharon-lee.com.
Sharon also has ablog she updates (almost) every day.