Frye Art Museum

Susie J. Lee: Of Breath and Rain

February 18 – April 15, 2012

The Frye Art Museum presents the first solo museum exhibition by leading Seattle artist Susie J. Lee. A 2010 Stranger Genius Award winner, Lee is a new-media sensualist who filters, quiets, and distills technological noise in her work, creating spaces for viewers to experience intensely intimate encounters with her art. Of Breath and Rain comprises two of Lee’s signature works, Rain Shower, 2007, and Still Lives: Exposure, 2010, both of which utilize a range of time-based media to explore the extraordinary richness of our human existence.

Lee’s early training as a pianist led to an awareness of and a fascination with the capacities of the human hand. Intending to become a hand surgeon, Lee was accepted to medical school but declined the invitation after deciding medicine was not her calling. Drawn to clay as the material closest to the malleable and transformative qualities of the human body, she enrolled instead as a graduate student in ceramics at the University of Washington.

Lee initially created tiny ceramic sculptures and works that highlighted clay’s temporal qualities. She has retained an abiding love for the tactility, sensuality, and immediacy of working with clay, even while finding closer alignment with video, digital technologies, and performance for the expression of her ideas.

Both Rain Shower and Still Lives reflect Lee’s deep awareness of the temporality of life, human fragility, and the corporeal experience of our actuality. Although she left behind her aspirations to become a surgeon, Lee has an ongoing interest in the medical sciences that informs all her work, which has at its core, an inquiry into what makes us human.

Lee has been named an “Artist to Watch” by the national publication Artnews. Her art has been exhibited nationally and internationally at Artefiere Bologna (Bologna, Italy); the Blanton Museum of Art (Austin); the Denver Art Museum; Galleria Tiziana Di Caro (Salerno, Italy); and Gallery Hyundai (Seoul). In 2011 the Portland Art Museum selected her as a recipient of its Northwest Contemporary Art Award. The Tacoma Art Museum’s 10th Northwest Biennial, running concurrently with this solo exhibition, also features Lee’s work, including additional selections from her Still Lives series.


Susie J. Lee: of Breath and Rain is organized by the Frye Art Museum and curated by Robin Held. The exhibition is funded by the Frye Foundation with generous support from the Offield Family Foundation and Frye Art Museum members and donors. Media sponsor is The Stranger. Seasonal support is provided by ArtsFund and Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs. Exhibition seating is provided by Greenroom Decor, Seattle.

For their support in the development of Still Lives, the artist would like to thank 4Culture SITE-SPECIFIC; Lawrimore Project, Seattle; SEEDArts, Seattle; and Washington Care Center, Seattle.

Image Credits:
Susie J. Lee. Still Lives: Exposure (detail), 2010. HD video portrait in framed, matted LED monitor. Courtesy of the artist and Lawrimore Project. Photo: Ryan K. Adams.
Susie J. Lee. Still Lives: Exposure, 2010. HD video portrait in framed, matted LED monitor. Courtesy of the artist and Lawrimore Project. Photo: Ryan K. Adams.
Susie J. Lee. Rain Shower, 2007/2012. LED/sound installation. Courtesy of the artist and Lawrimore Project. Rendering of installation in Frye Art Museum galleries: T.J. Johnson.