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Catherine Lee Retrospective At Blue Star Features Wood, Sculpture, Paint, Ceramic & Dance

A new exhibit opened at the Blue Star Contemporary Art Museum featuring the work of artist Catherine Lee.  The large central gallery of the Blue Star was filled with a distinct variety of different kinds of art.
The exhibit is called Emergence, and it’s an overview of Lee's 45-year art career. Lee described what's there.

“There are three-dimensional works in the middle of the space that move around in the space. There are paintings on the wall. There are sculptures on the wall. There are metal pieces and delicate paper pieces. A real breadth of things,” she said.

I noted to her that a lot of artists work in one medium but she work in a bunch.

“As many as possible: wood, paper, oil on canvas, all kinds of metal, copper, iron, bronze,” she said.

As she walked me around she had shown me massive pieces that were the result of a process called Raku.

“Raku ceramic is named for the Japanese family Raku who developed this process in the 14th century," she said.

A series of glazings and firings leave the clay unpredictably shaded and textured.  

“The color changes, the surface changes; it crackles, it crazes, it moves around," Lee said. "And it’s a life force, in and of itself.”

Lee turns that clay into squares and angles, and together, they create enormous, multi-textured shapes that she's hung on the wall. But the exhibit doesn’t end there. There’s also the dancing.  

“Those are a collaboration between me and the Shay Ishii Dance Company," said Lee. "Shay Ishii came to me and asked if she could dance with some of my sculptures."

Lee created the sculptures large enough to be danced in and around.

"She has a company of eight or nine dancers that wheel these sculptures around and get in them, and re-configure them, so it’s a very dynamic piece,” said Lee.

Grids are a recurring theme in her art.

“That runs throughout the 45 years I’ve been making art. It just keeps cropping up again and again,” she said.

Jack Morgan can be reached at jack@tpr.org and on Twitter at @JackMorganii