Jason Lee is currently an Associate Professor of Sculpture and Foundations Coordinator in the School of Art and Design at West Virginia University in Morgantown.
A multi media sculptor and installation artist, Jason Lee incorporates a wide variety of materials and techniques into his oddly humorous constructions and presentations. In some of Lee's most recent work he utilizes custom fabricated architectural steel elements as well as slip cast porcelain and embossed paper to create his vision of the idealized suburban landscape. Lee received the 2008 SECAC Individual Artists Fellowship and recently had work featured at the J&J Smith Gallery in Syracuse, NY and in the 2016 “Tallahassee International” FSU Museum of Art in Tallahassee, FL. Lee was born in 1969 in Goldsboro, NC. He received his BFA from Kent State University in 1993 and his MFA from University of Wisconsin Madison in 1998.
For the piece “Suburban Home” the embossed paper elements serve to represent, or re-present, the faux wood grain patterns found in the aluminum siding treatments of the suburban landscape of my youth. The way that these embossments are cut, folded and assembled are a direct reference to the DIY methods employed in album cover creation within the underground music scene of the 1980’s that grew behind those aluminum sided walls of the suburban Midwest. Similarly, the piece “Cul-de-sac (for you and me)” reflects on the suburban landscape of my childhood. The constructed environment mimics elements and color schemes of the skateboard pseudo-culture that was sold to the rabid and disenfranchised youth of the 80’s by pop media. This pristine wonderland of suburbia did not reflect my experience or the real underground suburban punk rock that was growing right under it’s nose. Coming of age in the 1980’s and being lucky enough to be a part of the underground music scene that grew from these saccharine suburban environments truly changed my life. What I learned from the DIY culture of the Punk community has forever altered the way I see and approach the world.
“If you used to be punk, then you never were”.
Studies in Modern Euthenics
euthenics (u-then´ iks) noun the science of adjusting living environment in order to improve the human condition.
My work sanitizes the classic landscape for our viewing pleasure. My elaborate installations display photographic images of sections of a cascading pristine creek, or a compartmentalized landscape, frozen in time. These scenes are made dimensional, suspended and contained within industrial style lightboxes. The constructions are reminiscent of the futuristic interior design of the 1960’s. They are made to reflect the vision of the future that permeated my youth, as seen in films such as “2001:a Space Odyssey” and “Rollerball”. These internally lit images reside within boundaries both real and perceived. These constructed sterile environments question the perceived safety and security of suburbia at the expense of real experience.
As the natural environment continues to deteriorate these modular representations remain pristine. My work addresses the futuristic ideal of my childhood. The landscape neatly compartmentalized for use anywhere. Why have the real thing when the allergy free facsimile is readily available and easily configurable to fit any interior space. From green green grass to the passing fluffy acid rain free clouds in the sky preserved for decades of family enjoyment, long after the real thing is but a memory.