Knoxville, TN | Painting, Mixed Media, Printmaking, Drawing
Marta Lee (b. Moscow, ID) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received her BFA from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. She has participated in Vermont Studio Center (Johnson, VT), Fire Island Artist Residency (Cherry Grove, NY), UT Exchange fellowship at Royal College of Art Sculpture Programme (London, UK), an Artist-in-Residence Fellowship at Anderson Ranch Arts Center (Snowmass Village, CO), and most recently a Guest Residency at Hercules Art Studio Program (TriBeCa, NY). Lee has exhibited nationally and internationally in Chicago, LA, Austin, New York, London, and Baltimore. She also works collaboratively with Anika Steppe under the moniker Frances Brady.
I use my practice to explore where I am from and examine what elements of place ground or identify experience. I am interested in our differences, as well as what we might unexpectedly share. As a Half-Chinese queer woman who grew up in Washington before moving to Tennessee, I have spent a lot of time feeling displaced. Last year, I participated in the Fire Island Artist Residency. Being in a place where my sexuality felt normal for the first time made me question my interest in belonging. While I had thought I was missing a sense of home from moving across the country, I realized that much of this void resulted from the lack of a diverse community I could relate to.
My paintings explore questions of identity, ranging from conceptual and formal concerns to more intimate and personal narratives. I examine this elusive feeling of home by using objects and spaces that resonate with me undeniably: worn-out shoes and patterned tablecloths become vessels for memory and comfort. Recently, I have been incorporating photographic matte-medium transfers into my paintings. These skin-like, slightly nuanced multiples create irregular patterns that frame the image and contrast colorful, painted areas. While I am receptive to each painting’s inner logic, I also occupy myself with rules, listening to particular songs on repeat or using written notes or diagrams instead of reference photographs. I hope that this melding of abstraction and figuration opens the work up to a more fluid interpretation of contemporary domestic spaces.