Photography and more from Jim Lee's Bamboo Turtle Studio

Jim Lee

Artist's Statement

Jim Lee

I know there is a constant stream of creativity flowing through me like a rich waterfall of ideas, concepts, solutions, connections, visions and more, all available to me when I pay attention. Sometimes it is gentle and quiet, other times a raging torrent. I reach into the stream when it is time to make art. The stream is always there whether I am present with it or not. Part of me always will be that little boy from many years ago, inquisitive, mischievous, defiant, empathetic, introspective, shy, capable of intense focus but prone to indiscipline most of the time, and not quite knowing where I belong.

Art, science, nature, and technology are of a piece to me. So are photography and sculpture. My art is about finding hidden stories waiting to be told. I can spend countless hours alone outdoors enjoying encounters with whatever presents itself. I am equally at home wandering around abandoned urban and rural infrastructure looking for the stories told by what remains.

I collect the remains of natural processes of growth and decay, bring them into the studio where I look for beauty, form, and function as I create still lifes, and other compositions that are sometimes abstract and sometimes reflective of the human condition. My photographs often include three‐dimensional objects that I have fabricated. Unlike the other organic elements, they suggest permanence. These artifacts are crafted with the same care and precision as the photos themselves. For me, they are as important, each able to stand on its own as an objet d’art. They are the expressions of my constant desire to bring a sense of dimensionality to my work. Over time I have felt the need to pull them away from their roles as props and place them in places of prominence, standing as larger sculptures in their own right or as dimensional framed pieces standing off from a wall, eschewing the photographic elements altogether. I imagine them larger than life, resisting decay, refusing to become remains, making statements, inviting engagement, welcoming replication, and teaching about themselves.

I thrive in these binary and contradictory worlds of permanence and transience, growth and decay, 2D and 3D, photography and sculpture, illusion and truth.

Photography is the most intimate thing I do in art. It is the sharing of that intimacy that I strive for. I want my audience to not only see what I see, but feel what I feel. It means looking closely, looking beyond the surface, looking at texture, at history, at cause, at effect, at circumstance…looking for why it is interesting to me and what makes it worth sharing. The work can be beautiful, disturbing, or even whimsical. In any case, I want to take people where they haven’t been and leave them with questions and a desire to look again. In the final analysis, I want my work to be compositionally strong and narratively rich.