http://larryleechicago.com

Bio

Instructor, Art History, Theory and Criticism (2006). Concurrent Position: Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions, SAIC. BFA, 1991, University of Illinois at Chicago; MFA, 1999, School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Exhibitions: mn gallery, Gallery 400, Joymore, Gallery 312, Heaven Gallery, Chicago; Janette Kennedy Gallery, Dallas; Artspace, New Haven, CT; DiverseWorks, Houston; Free Gallery, Glasgow; Spaces, Cleveland; Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia; Kearney Street Workshop, San Francisco; Number 35, NY. Publications: ArtAsiaPacific; Old Orchard Review; DePaul University Press. Awards: CAAP Grant, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs.


Experience at SAIC

To follow a rigid curriculum offers pedagogical structure, but teaching art is an interdisciplinary process. Therefore my approach combines conceptual inquiry via a hands-on studio practice with an academic rigor that asks the student to learn, then question process, material and meanings. Teaching art in general but sculpture and three-dimensional design in particular involves generating curiosity, creating an open studio/classroom environment and conveying matter-of-fact technical information with complex formal and conceptual issues through materials and techniques. I show students not only how to make, but ask them to think about why they are making. Students can then develop confidence with their aesthetic decisions based on their understanding of the historical antecedents, movements, styles and individuals to critically analyze and shape their vision. My strength is communicating these ideas on an individual basis as well as within the usual larger group dynamic.

My own art debates broad issues of whose voice is being heard. The diaspora that is the work by artists of color is often underrepresented, ignored in large part by a praxis accustomed to traditionally Westernized and Eurocentric based arts education. My commitment towards bringing issues of diversity into the teaching environment means not only examining positions of difference but also reevaluating areas of high and low culture, affecting how students see, feel or live now.

I often reiterate to each new class, each new student that all their work is relevant and valid. Everything is derivative because what they do or make in class is either a conscious or subconscious part of a larger history, which reacts against or pays homage to the art of previous generations. And as such, each project that forms the core of my curriculum emphasizes this historical relevance and necessity of how art is relevant to life, to their lives and their world. I use my own experiences anecdotally to reinforce the point that learning and making art is full of detours ancillary and sometimes unrelated to art. My role as an educator is also to facilitate the student in their autonomy to learn. I wholly subscribe to what Paulo Freire in his book Pedagogy of Freedom terms "a capacity to be critical,"that to teach is not to transfer knowledge but to create the possibilities for the production or construction of knowledge.


Personal Statement

My work remakes high/low culture as multimedia "orientalia," stylized reproductions of cultural objects, images and actions that fit a stereotype, perspective or aesthetic often associated with anything Asian which explores how the production of culture and its byproducts constructs and typecasts the discourse of Self versus Other by reinventing or reinterpreting what is accepted cultural capital as private/public record with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

So far, this approach vacillates between video installations usually of the multiple-channel variety, conceptual projects and sculptural objects. The video works play with autobiographical moments decontextualized and isolated as solitary exercises of specific physical movements that become ritualized as the result of repeated performance affecting the formal properties related to the spatial and temporal to humorous effect whereas the conceptual projects tend to question the nature and definition of the artistic process itself, the primacy of the autonomous individual and related issues pertaining to validations of what is authentic or original utilizing curatorial practice as a strategy of alternative display through community and collaboration within the politics of the room.

A sardonic appreciation of chinoiserie informs the three-dimensional objects and installations which typically explore ethnic-specific and cultural issues of voicing the other through the basic sculptural questions of form, material and space regurgitated oftentimes as minimalist design. Such recognizably Asian things function to embrace Western notions of beauty and form that affect how the relationship of design and culture intersect, the juncture gridlocked by the gravitational forces of modernism and its cultural imperative to universalize its nature and pigeonhole its style or perception.

 

Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.