Léo Lee

Rainbow Book (Handmade paper in handbound book)

Léo Lee is a bilingual, multinational paper-based artist who works in book arts, binding, fiber, print, publishing, and papermaking. Léo strongly believes that everyone should have access to creative expression and the support to find it. This belief has led her to teach all ages on several continents. Locally, she has taught as an adjunct at Trinity and the former Southwest School of Art, where she (briefly) ran the Book and Paper department until May 2020.

Motivated by concerns with toxicity in the studio since being introduced to printmaking as an undergraduate and being further motivated by current environmental concerns, Léo is continuously looking for sustainable ways to make her work. Her other passions are gardening (her garden includes food, dyes and fiber materials) and education. Teaching sustainability (physical, environmental as well as economic sustainability) is empowering to her, so she teaches accordingly.

Léo holds a BFA and a K-12 Art Education certificate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, an MA, and an MFA in Printmaking from the University of Iowa, where she also studied Book Arts. Currently, she teaches art at St. Paul’s Episcopal Montessori and at Trinity University, while dreaming of starting her own plant-based art school (Center for Book Arts cum Fibers and Sewing).

Resume (PDF)


Artist Statement of Work

Tell us about your work (style, approach, philosophy, subject and/or theme):

After 5 years of personal loss: of family, friends, a career and more, my own practice has been re-examined and re-conceived to become pared down and more focussed. A fearless approach to a somewhat terrifying future is to slow down, take no action other than be present and be patient. Life itself is only chaos within which we strive to find some kind of meaning. My work starts in the ground, growing plants. Half of my studio is outdoors, my bookbinding desk looks out on my gardening thus the whole cycle stays connected. I find special joy within pattern: pattern of music and rhythm, pattern of sewing, pattern of plants, the pattern of words. Most recently, I have focussed on slim patterned spine bindings. As I teacher, my job is to ask the right questions to help my students find their right answers. My own work does the same, hopefully enticing the viewer question a given standard, or a lazy rote reply or contradiction. We take too many things for granted, accept too many givens without ever noticing.

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