On view at citizen

Curator's Statement

 SAGE RVA, LLC and Citizen Restaurant are pleased to present “Not From Around Here,” a solo exhibition of work featuring Richmond artist Nicole J. Lee. This exhibition is part of the on-going series at Citizen Restaurant, curated by SAGE RVA, called “On View at Citizen.”

Lee, originally hailing from Reston, VA, has invested herself in the local art and lived environment of Richmond since moving here for undergraduate study at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2011. Now a master’s student in interior design at VCU, her work blends her background in painting with her current study in architecture and design. Consisting of graphite drafting using stencils and straight-edges, and watercolor abstraction, Lee’s works on paper range from a single large painting to small, intimate pieces. All of Lee’s work is crafted by hand and presented unframed, making the experience immediate and personal.

Lee creates her paintings in the most contemporary sense – not in reference to any specific art world or issue, but rather in a personal-meets-global context. Based in personal obsessions, anxieties, and thought patterns (which, though individuated here, are commonly found), the work ends up speaking to larger themes of choice. These include: 21st century anxiety; control, chaos, and acceptance; and a darkly humorous subversiveness grounded in feminine and feminist aesthetics. Lee’s interest in place-based and location-specific language is evident in her architectural references, counteracted as they are with the unpredictability, softness, and color-play of her watercolor work. From midcentury modernism to the quilts of Gee’s Bend, the references in Lee’s work (both intentional and otherwise) are wide-ranging, drawing the viewer into an array of visual languages and symbolism.