Mary Yu-mee Lee
To give beauty--that’s the meaning of my middle name given to me by my immigrant parents, David and Donna Chin. Born in Boston in the early ‘50’s, I remember yearning to draw, but seldom having the opportunity. My siblings and I worked in the family laundry, each starting formally at age 12, and for myself, continuing through college and while in medical school when I could. Only after recently winding down a full career as a physician and academic administrator while raising a family have I indulged in my passion to create art. During my career, my creative outlet was our garden, earning the moniker of “the plant lady” in my neighborhood. That love of nature and life, of people and their connection to place and to each other, pervade my work.
With decades as a physician and educator that include global efforts, I’ve witnessed the awe-inspiring strength of the human spirit and a universal desire for peace, hope, and beauty to transcend the most dire circumstances. That beauty is everywhere. I’m drawn to the interplay of light, color and form, and enjoy searching for those vital elements that best evoke a subject, no matter landscapes, figures or florals. I’m excited by juxtaposed colors laid down with energetic brushstrokes that transmit the inner energy of a subject. Up close, the image may appear to be an abstract collection of strokes, but as you move away the clarity of the image emerges. I admire a wide range of artists, including Van Gogh, Sargent, Diebenkorn, and Toko Shinoda. I endeavor to push towards a looser, impressionistic style where more abstract expression will naturally emanate from some pieces, while maintaining a link to what I observe. I work mainly in oils, whether plein air (painting outdoors), from life, or from my own photographs of favorite places or subjects.
I’d like to give a shout out to Susan Guest-McPhail, a most generous teacher and artist, who started me so joyously painting with a sliced up credit card! Her enthusiasm and encouragement were key motivators to explore painting. And to Catherine Kehoe, another exceptionally gifted teacher and artist, who made me pick up a brush and truly see.
© All images copyright Mary Y Lee Fine Art