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Early Public Viewing: Sandra Eula Lee, Make of/Make Do

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Sandra Eula Lee: Make of/Make Do, curated by Department of Visual Arts Art History professor Christopher Bennett, is now open for early public viewing at the UL Hilliard University Art Museum (the official opening reception will take place Friday, February 3rd).

Sandra Eula Lee makes use of ordinary, and at times site-specific, materials to construct two- and three- dimensional arrangements. Currently the director of the Expanded Sculpture Program at Kenyon College in Ohio, Lee uses materials salvaged from construction sites in her art. Working with materials gathered during travels through South Korea, China, and the United States, she configures work that explores the theme of the “garden”—principally as an East Asian formation—and the “ponds” often located within them.

As a former resident of five bustling cities—Goyang, Seoul, Xiamen, Beijing, and New York City—where Lee lived between 2000 and 2015, Lee experienced a larger atmosphere defined by accelerated modernization and continual construction. She was especially struck by small, ‘impromptu’ gardens, created and tended by anonymous civilians, located between the many construction zones and apartment blocks and along the peripheries of such places. Soon, she began to think about how the “garden” might be brought to bear on making a work of art. 

As an artist Lee conceives the “garden” as a space of contemplation; it is also, like life itself, in her estimation, “improvised.” Inspired by more formal gardens, such as Soswaewon Garden in South Korea or The Master of Nets Garden in Suzhou, China, Lee is particularly drawn to the ponds located within gardens. She describes such a pond as “almost a kind of empty space, reflecting what’s around it.” 

The exhibition Make of / Make Do surveys Lee’s production from 1997 to 2014 and includes her most recent works of 2015-17. In these later pieces, the themes of her earlier “gardens” and “ponds” undergo projection onto the vertical plane of the wall and onto new landscape features, such as mountains. 

Lee’s art is defined by a dynamic tension between the spontaneous and potentially endless process of making use of salvaged and commonly available materials—and the arrival at a finely-tuned, definitive external structure.

Dr. Christopher Bennett 
Guest Curator and UL Lafayette Department of Visual Arts Faculty

Sandra Eula Lee: Make of / Make Do has been generously supported by the Department of Visual Arts and College of the Arts at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio; and the Friends of the Humanities.

Image Credit:
Sandra Eula Lee, Portable Pond, 2010/16. Cut and painted acrylic, wood. Dimensions variable. Photograph and artwork © Sandra Eula Lee.