Most Viewed Stories
- Change of plea hearing delayed for ex-Yuma dancer
- Police seek timeline of days leading up to woman's death
- New trial date set and plea agreement accepted in baseball bat murder case
- Man who robbed Foothills bank sentenced to nearly 20 years in federal prison
- Man accused of trying to smuggle almost $1M worth of cocaine
Yuma native making art her own way
- Click here to see more photos of Lee and her work
Artist Lauren Lee channels her emotions, life experiences and epiphanies into the many genres of art she creates.
“I often deal in spiritual themes, or themes that deal with the emotional aspects of life,” she explained. “Synchronicity, magnetism, serendipity, love, suffering – it's all inspirational.”
Lee, a Yuma native, is a successful painter who now lives in the Phoenix area.
“Professionally I am a painter, and it is my fascination with color and light that keeps me in love with painting,” she said.
“But artists are complex, dynamic beings. I am a writer, a poet, a collage artist, a photographer, an illustrator, a graphic designer. Oftentimes big projects take all of those skills, and so I am grateful that art is a very broad experience.”
When she is creating a new piece, Lee hopes it will ultimately create something “beyond words,” she said.
“Art should move you, it should be a visceral experience, not necessarily a cerebral one.”
And her art could mean something different for each person who sees it.
“I believe that art is an interactive process,” she said. “The message I send, may not be the message you receive. It's like a game of telephone. it depends on how clear I am and how hard you are listening. Each piece inherently carries a message.”
But the overall message she wants to convey through her art is “life is beautiful, wake up!” she said. “The highest purpose for my work ultimately is to awaken people.”
When painting, Lee will often work late into the night.
“I like to go get a coffee at my local coffee shop (before settling) into the privacy of painting,” she said. “I listen to music while I paint, definitely a little dancing is involved. It's a joyful process, and a consuming one. I make sure I have eaten, because oftentimes once I start, hours will go by and I am not always very aware of time passing.”
Growing up, Lee would watch her mother, Mari Noel, create enormous and intricate collages.
“My mother is my biggest fan and my greatest inspiration. I would watch her make art when I was growing up, and so in some ways I saw it as a lifestyle,” she said. “Whether it was redecorating, going shopping or literally making art, my mom taught me that life is a creative process...”
As a child, Lee always knew she would not fit into a regular mold.
“I had a feeling - sometimes I would be overwhelmed with this feeling as a child – that I was different,” she said. “I have always been very ambitious.”
Lee has been “creating art ever since I can remember. I was a very artistic child but I really began expressing myself creatively when I started going to Fifth Street,” she said.
Fifth Street was an offshoot of Fourth Avenue Junior High School in the mid-1990s, Lee explained.
“It was created for more artistically inclined students. The experience at that junior high taught me how to be outwardly expressive, versus just inwardly artistic.”
Duncan Phillips and Bill Powery, who taught Lee at Fifth Street, were a defining influence in her life, Lee said.
“They took me from being a failing, introverted student to an honor roll student by teaching me that what I had and am is of value. Their teaching practices were fun and strange. They showed me that there are many ways to learn, and my love of learning was ignited there.”
After graduating from Yuma High School in 2001, Lee attended Arizona State University. She then began teaching at New School for the Arts and Academics in 2007, and remained there for five years. She is now a full time professional artist.
She was recently featured in the Phoenix New Times as part of the newspaper's “100 creative forces in Phoenix” series.
Lee is grateful she never took painting classes at ASU.
“My art processes typically involve painting with my hands, mixing my colors on canvas versus palette, color theory that is based entirely on intuition, and an extremely stubborn attitude towards formality,” she said.
“I am a structured art teacher's nightmare - color charts make me cry. Everything I have learned about painting has been through trial and error, and mistakes that lead to breakthroughs.”
Art is not a discipline, it is a devotion, she added.
“Now having said that, I would like to add that going to a university is an experience that I am very grateful for. It taught me that no one was going to advocate for me, or make my way. I was going to have to earn it, and if I was going to work with businesses then I was going to have to be professional.”
There is a myth about artists “being out of control and personally destructive, when in fact it takes a great deal of courage and spiritual connectivity,” she said. “It takes soul.”
Art is necessary, Lee added.
“Art enriches our character. It implores us to be bigger people and inspires us to greater good. Life at its most basic level is a very creative process. There is so much freedom in that.”
In the future, Lee will continue to create art professionally and paint large murals around the Phoenix area.
“I have definitely caught the large scale public art bug,” she said. “Creating murals is an entirely different process, it is public and it is for the public.”
Lee will also participate in a few art shows this autumn.
For more information about Lee and her art, log onto http://www.facebook.com/laurenlee222.
Chris McDaniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6849.