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JeeYoung Lee

JeeYoung Lee

Meet installation artist from Seoul, JeeYoung Lee.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am an artist of installation and photography, based in Seoul. My subject matters are myself and my life. Through my Stage of Mind series, I have dealt with psychological landscape based on my personal experience, feelings, and life storytelling.

 

Describe the city you’re living in and what it’s like to live there.

Seoul is a rapidly changing city sensitive to the trends. The competition is fierce, while social expectations toward each individual are very high.

 

Seoul is a rapidly changing city sensitive to the trends. The competition is fierce, while social expectations toward each individual are very high.

What is the best and worst thing about living in your city?

Seoul is a city familiar with the ‘fast and faster’ culture. Speed and convenience may well be good, but we always live under tension and pressure. Moreover, since the population is dense, we are busy being driven out of mind by this and the traffic jam. Seoul is a city that does not sleep. If you are in Seoul, you can visit restaurants at dawn and you could play all night.

 

Give us 3 words that describe what it’s like to be a creative in your city.

Challenging, patience, passion

 

How did you start your career in art?

Although it might be a child’s intangible dream, I dreamed of an artist, while viewing mother’s oil paintings hanging on the wall of my house. (My mom stopped painting after her marriage, but she studied fine art.) My parents were very upset when I made the decision to go to art school in my senior year of high school. To compromise, I majored Visual Communication Design. In college, I picked up an interest in theater and film production art. This is when I started considering a career in that field. I was a member of Dromapic, the school’s filmmaking club. We made short films and music videos together. Later I took a couple of semesters off to work as an assistant at a commercial production company. After a few months, I realized the industry was not the best outlet for my creativity because I felt the actual work limited my creative expression. I was constantly bombarded with work and had very little time for myself. Let’s just say it was not exactly what I had in mind. I had to go back to square one to figure out who I was and what I really wanted to do with my life. This is when I started taking staged photographs for my bachelor’s exhibition which brought me back to my roots. I went on to study photography in grad school to gain in-depth knowledge. My debut as an artist was in 2009 when I graduated from grad school.

 

I had to go back to square one to figure out who I was and what I really wanted to do with my life. This is when I started taking staged photographs for my bachelor’s exhibition which brought me back to my roots.

Were the people around you supportive of your decision on working as a creative?

At first, my parents opposed my decision to advance to an art college. They didn’t want me to be an artist. Because they thought it was hard to survive as an artist. Now, however, they are interested in my work and they are supportive of me.

 

What are some goals and ambitions you have for your future work?

Since I love nature, I am much concerned with environmental issues. Lately, I have been observing the environment contaminated by plastic. In the near future, I would like to work with this issue.

 

Since I love nature, I am much concerned with environmental issues. Lately, I have been observing the environment contaminated by plastic. In the near future, I would like to work with this issue.

If you could collaborate with any person in the world who would it be?

Since my interest tends to change continuously, I can hardly point out certain people. But I feel that space production suits my working tendencies well. Recently, I am interested in collaborating with companies for a window display.

 

How would you describe the women around you?

There are women of diverse types around me and they all have different value systems. This question reminds me of my closest friend, Bee, who exchanges thoughts with me a lot. She is progressive and adventurous.

 

There are women of diverse types around me and they all have different value systems.

Were there any local female creatives that you looked up to when you were growing up?

When I was young, I had no special figure I respected much. Rather than finding a role model for me, I seemed to focus on what I wanted to do for myself.

 

Are there any challenging aspects of being a female in your industry?

I’m an artist. I don’t think I face an especially difficult problem because I am a woman. But in the Korean society that is much characterized by the patriarchy, I feel freer than those female professionals working for other areas.

However, I feel that there are many female artists who have stopped their career after marriage due to childbirth and child-rearing thereafter.

 

Never give up. Since the artist’s way is a struggle with oneself, you should be confident in yourself.

 

Do you have any advice to young women who are aspiring to work in your field?

Never give up. Since the artist’s way is a struggle with oneself, you should be confident in yourself. It is very important to keep a healthy balance between self-confidence and anxiousness. You need to think clearly about what story should be expressed and in what ways. Needless to say, it is important for you to have your own concept and style. Don’t be impatient. You should have your own speed and direction.

 

 

Photos courtesy of JeeYoung Lee.

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