Inspired by an artist residency in Mexico in 2016, Kerry Ann Lee has added Latin magical realism to her visual vocabulary of surreal cultural juxtapositions. Here Mexican mariachi meets kitsch Asian tourist symbols and Western art historical tropes of windows and mirrors as ways of viewing. This wild global potpourri of imagery calls to a subtle politics of resistance (reinforced in some of her titles) to narrow essentialism, rationalism and consumerism.
As in the markets of Mexico City where migrant traditions trade and mutate, common objects such as watches, brooms, lanterns, flowers and coins are, in these photomontages and hanging mobiles, recast as sacred objects, magical charms, talismans and amulets.In Praise of Weird Wonders
celebrates the dreamscape, the surreal imagination, the unexplainable. Teasing tensions between the rational and supernatural the works offer wide-ranging readings on the contemporary.Things aren’t always clearly defined, things are murky and weird and terrifying and messy and splendid and hard.
Kerry Ann LeeI open my doors, with the purpose and the good faith, to the spirits of fortune. May they one day come to my house, may health and prosperity be at my doors. For my business to work perfectly and is free from envy and hatred from my enemi
es. Incantation on Mexican magic soap packet
Kerry Ann Lee is a visual artist, designer and educator from Wellington who exhibits nationally and internationally. With a background in graphic art, she uses traditional and digital media to create socially engaged print and image-based works and installations. Her art meditates on themes of home, difference, and hybridity. It has also explored urban settlement and culture clash occurring in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in Chinatowns.
In 2007, Lee was the recipient of the Asia New Zealand Emerging Researcher Award. In 2008, she created Home Made
, an illustrated artist book and national touring art exhibition that presented an alternative cultural history of Chinese settlement in New Zealand. In 2009 she received a Fulbright Award to attend the Summer Residency Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and she was an artist-in-residence at island6 Art Centre Shanghai through the WARE Programme. A survey of works created in Shanghai was shown at Toi Pōneke Gallery in Wellington in 2010. A work commissioned by The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa was shown for 18 months and featured on the covers of Art News New Zealand and Art Zone. Her artwork can be found in print, online, and in public spaces and private collections throughout New Zealand, Australia, Europe, USA and China.
Lee is also known for her interest in punk music and work with self-published fanzines. Describing the evolution of her practice, she says:
Initially it came from a love and active interest in collage and punk poster graphics, record art, Dada and a lot of that historic use of montage. I learned the more elegant, craft aspect of Chinese paper cutting later on. I like that punk and Dada were more about upsetting popular imagery, a transformative reconfiguration of paper cutting to both reveal and take away.
Press release courtesy Bartley & Company Art.