Time-Line & Studio-Tour
A Photo Diary under construction
I read a poem once in which the poet was lamenting about the ideas people have of where a poet writes, and where inspiration strikes. The hazy-remaining impression I have of it now is that the poet was reflecting on our tendency toward romanticizing what, more often than not, takes place under the most unromantic circumstances.
Where you start from, and the conditions you create under, speaks as much to the achievement as the finished product ever could.
Artist Interviews like to ask, "How did you get started doing <insert medium/subject/method here>? What inspired you?"
How should you respond when the most honest answer is, "...ummm...ignorance and poverty."?
When they ask about your 'studio', what if it's nothing but a little red wagon that you wheel out (only in ideal weather conditions) of the furthest, tightest corner of someone else's uninsulated garage (which you are endlessly grateful for, because otherwise it would be out of the back of your car...which you're also endlessly grateful for because that, and your drill, are all you have, and you cannot afford to be without it, nor can you afford to repair it....fishes and loaves, my friends, fishes and loaves!)?
What do you say, when that is the answer that comes into your mind, because it is your honest truth? Can you answer honestly? What does it say about me, if I don't?
The story of my first chicken egg is an embarrassing but engaging demonstration of my craft being hatched in ignorance and poverty.
If a real look behind the curtain is what connects you, if you understand the hurdles a piece had to surpass to just to become is where it's real value lies, you might veritable wallow in the saga I could lay out here given endless time!
I can speak like this. There's no one here listening in the silence
Cherie Lee was born in Philadelphia, on the side of the tracks good people pretend isn't there, and has been bumping around the world unchecked ever since, much to the chagrin of many. Being a proud daughter of divorced alcoholic parents and growing up virtually feral in the 70's amid a stew of poverty and various abuses provided a handy backdrop of strength and problem solving skills, as well as "the gift of self governance" that will later come to serve her well on a predictably arduous path, made more fraught by choosing unmentored-art as a career, and further compounded by her bizarre and probably Freudian choice of medium.
Predominately an eggshell sculptor, Cherie Lee has an extensive multidisciplinary background. She has the distinction of being both a high school drop-out, as well as the first (and nearly last), in her family to attend a school of higher learning, graduating with the extremely prestigious and coveted Specialized Associates Degree for Graphic and Advertising Arts in 1986 at the unwise age of 18 from the long-defunct, but no doubt once highly questionable, Philadelphia School of Printing and Advertising. She is a prolific photographer, both digital and film, and has produced extensive bodies of work in image-editing and manipulation, stop-action video and animation, and even in the jealousy-inducing realm of body paint work. She also writes prodigiously, but neither her wry wit nor her dark undercurrent make for good book-club material. Or helpful bio's.
Despite actively suspending her career to raise her children, she still managed to get her artwork into the White House Permanent Collection amidst a devastating family crisis, took the time to relocate to Chicago, then New York then New Jersey, studiously cultivating professional affiliations numbering in the zeros and point zeros along the way, and still achieved the distinction of becoming permanently disabled by a rare and little-heard-of neurological disorder, just for added flavor. "It's all for the art."
Cherie's civic-minded side is evidenced by her years as a volunteer firefighter and trained first responder, as well as her repeated volunteer service to the Jacob Burns Film Center's "Minds in Motion" Education Program, teaching Westchester County 4th grade students "to collaboratively write, storyboard, direct, and produce original stop-motion animated films."
Her carved eggshell work, focusing on subtractive sculpture with a bent toward white-on-white, reflects a stark bareness that is belied by the often complex detailing and subject matter, itself. Her work exemplifies, through it's very medium, the strength and beauty even the smallest and most fragile of us are constructed of, and demonstrates the universal desire even the weakest and ugliest have to improve (insert nearly any word here). While she darkly likes to joke that she'd be an ideal first-run eugenicists pick, in truth, it's born of an acute and personal awareness of resources forever lost to us all through inequity.
Yikes! I haven't even gotten to the part where I became permanently disabled as a young mother with a little-known illness painful enough to be one of two diseases physicians privately refer to as a 'suicide disease'; or losing everything from our home of 10 years while the boys were at college; or how that made us move back to NJ 'soft homeless'; or how the boy's father committed suicide months later, and how they still graduated from prestigious schools; how that all led to me getting the drill and discovering residencies; and how that changed my work forever into something...more...
too much more!
I will start by sketching out a rough timeline here, but I will have to fill in all the dirty details slowly along the way. Patience, Grasshopper.