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Earl Selkirk Gallery

JJ LEE | Reproduction

Running from Thursday February 15th 2018 to Sunday March 18th 2018



Reception – Friday March 2, 6:30-8:30pm

Exhibition Statement

As a way for me to squeeze in art making in my busy life as mother of a child with multiple special needs, a Chair of a university program, artist, professor, wife, I started drawing on 2”x 4 ¾” paper labels (shipping tags) from an office supply store.  I see these stolen moments as meditations.

In 2016 I incurred a concussion. The treatment plan involved no cognitive or physical exertion and restriction from computer screens, televisions, cell phones, reading of books, doing crossword puzzles or listening to audiobooks. “Can I draw?” I asked the doctor and she, to my relief said “yes”.

I’ve been drawing anything and everything that crosses my mind or path: the cup of coffee I was drinking from, skulls, Chinese word cards, autism cells, pencil sharpener, Chinese ornamental patterns, autistic brain scans, the patterns from my daughter’s pants, scientific diagrams, my glasses polishing cloth, the headache medication I was taking, butterflies.

The connecting word to all of these vastly disparate images is “Reproduction, which can have a biological definition but also references the act of copying from images from the internet or books, or from life. It calls into question what identity is “authentic”. Contributions and collaborations from my partially deaf, autistic daughter are interspersed as we investigate meaning of medical labels, identity, systems of classifications, grouping, cultures, and the arbitrary approaches to categorization. In reality, labels do not capture the complexity and diversity of being we all experience. Through these works I hope to re-create this tension between the bureaucratic structure of labelling and the unsystematic reality of human individuality.

Artist Bio

JJ Lee (b. 1969, Halifax) received her BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1992. After residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Lee moved to Vancouver and initiated Lotusland: an Asian-Canadian artists collective. Lee has exhibited extensively in both public institutions such as the Vancouver Art Gallery and artist-run centres across the country. In 1999, Lee received an MFA from York University, Toronto. She is the recipient of several awards (including Canada Council, the Ontario Arts Council, RBC New Canadian Painting Competition and the Asian Canadian Artists Fund for Visual Arts).  Her work is in public (RBC, York University, Canada Council Art Bank) and private collections in Canada and the USA. She is represented in the Magenta Foundation’s Carte Blanche: Painting, a survey of contemporary Canadian painters. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter and is an Assistant Professor, Contemporary Issues of Representation at OCAD University.