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Michelle Jane Lee: Meditations In An Emergence


Artist Statement

"Meditations In An Emergency" takes its title from Frank O'hara's poem of the same name. The poem is both of urgency and bitterness and of soft daydreaming and grand schemes of a forever love. This is to say, the poem is utterly and fully human - in its messiness and in its hopefulness.

In the tradition of Frank O'Hara, writer Alice Munroe and painter Agnes Martin, Lee's work aims to find the sublime in the mundane and the human. Meant to connect and conjure up familiar feelings and memories from lives lived by any and every one during and through any and everything. There is quietness and humility but also a grandness and importance to the fact that each moment has a special significance - even if it could never be understood or felt in its full magnitude by anyone outside of ourselves.

For this show, Lee would like to create a body of work that looks to the past to dissect the resilience of queer/femme poets, writers and artists in times of emergencies (coming to age in times of war to great civil unrests and change) and in current climate with still a very uncertain future we face.

As with Lee's previous works, the images themselves will not be direct representation or obvious clues to the theme. But the creation of the work itself during these Emergencies, will be the proof of resilience. In this way, "Meditations in Emergency" helps to create a space of reflection as was as a call to react to our own lives lived authentically - and that our existence alone, is proof of Living.


Michelle Jane Lee’s art is minimalist in form yet muscular in content. There is a complexity, density; to put it simply, there is a lot of heart in the often times sparse drawings and paintings.

In Lee's latest series of systematic paintings and installations, highly personal letters written by the artist are translated into idiosyncratic grids of colored squares and patterns. Utilizing a color alphabet developed by the artist, the narrative transforms into the abstract. Through this act Lee gives the viewer an emotive experience of color while also pointing to the very abstractness of language.

Lee spent her childhood in Seoul, Korea, lived and studied in Chicago and currently lives and works in Los Angeles, CA.


CONTACT US: If you want to know more about this project, how to support the work of this artist or how you can contribute to supporting our programs by e-mailing us at



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