Lucky 13: Michelle Jane Lee

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“I Don’t Want To Stare At Your Feet All Night” ​

 

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“Dear, You’ll Never Guess”

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“I Wish I’d Never Seen Your Face”

When I first found Michelle Jane Lee on instagram I was captivated by her simple wooden bowls and the quiet artistry of her photos.  Then I saw her painting series in which she uses a color alphabet to transform personal letters into abstract beauty and I was sold.  Sarah and I couldn’t stop looking at her paintings trying to crack the secret code all the while marveling at the refined artistry.  Her Lucky 13 interview is a reflection of her work.  You can tell this girl is brilliant, that she has a million things rolling around in her mind at once, yet she somehow manages to produce a thoughtful, eloquent and simple answer.  As her artist statement says “There is a complexity, density; to put it simply, there is a lot of heart in the often times sparse drawings and paintings.”

And I’m just going to say it- Best titles of paintings and drawings EVER.

 

1.What are you working on at the moment?

I keep a full time studio practice with a focus on my paintings and drawings. Currently I’m in the middle of a series called “But Now You’re Just Los Angeles And, Everybody Lies” that’s about two years old, exploring and developing within certain set of boundaries pertaining to experiences I’ve had with people I’ve met since living in LA for the past 4 1/2 years. I’ve also begun creating my own line of functional objects, right now in wood and concrete but I would love to expand my materials as I become familiar with others. I also have an on-going collaboration with an incredible dancer/choreographer – trying to bridge the gab between the ephemeral experience of dance/theatre with the permanence of visual art (at least in the case of drawings, paintings, etc.) These are some of the main projects but there are another few handful of ideas and projects going. Every single moment of my life is filled with some sort of creation and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

2.What drives you to do what you do?

Love and feeling (too much.) And a relentless devotion to and faith in, Beauty.

3.What is it like to be a woman in your line of work?

Being an artist isn’t easy for anyone, but I do think there are still disadvantages to being a female artist. There’s no hiding the fact female artists are grossly under represented in museums and in galleries. I get excited if I see a list of names for a group show of 8 artists and if there are even two women among them. How sad the expectation is set this low? Women are no less talented than men, so this lack of opportunity and representation has to reflect something far more, sinister? But it is getting much better. People are speaking up and fighting for it, both men and women. I have a beautiful and supportive family of artists that see no gender in art and I’m hopeful little by little this gap will lessen and will one day disappear completely.

4.Do you have any regrets?

I have so many of them. But to me ‘regret’ is not a dirty word and I hate the shame behind it. It’s a reminder of mine and all of our imperfections. It keeps me growing, learning and maybe mostly importantly, humble. I’m still evolving but I’m happy to be who I am with big thanks to mistakes and regrets and lessons learned from them.

5.Do you have any scars?

Most memorable ones would be my tattoos and a tiny graphite dot embedded on the palm of my left hand from accidentally stabbing myself with a pencil while working. I like to think it gives me super drawing powers. Kind of like Spider Man after his spider bite.

6.What do you believe in?
Love, beauty, sincerity, compassion and devotion.

7.What is your best dream?
Twice I dreamt the exact same dream where I helped the smurfs fight Gargamel. We built this incredible contraption – frames built around my body with compartments for the smurfs to be positioned in with various weapons. I heard somewhere if you have the same exact dream three times, it becomes real. Sometimes I wonder if I’m just living my life waiting for that third smurf dream and finally be a hero.

Sometimes I also wonder how I have friends.

8.What could you not live without as an artist?
Working set of hands, a curious and insatiable hunger deep in my heart and in my gut.

9.What is your guiltiest pleasure?
I personally don’t feel guilty about any of these but some may say it’s my love of terrible Korean pop music, craving and having cheeseburgers and chocolate sprinkled donuts for breakfast.

10.Who is your Woman Crush Wenesday?
Rashida Jones is my woman crush every day.

 

11.Which woman artist out there today would you love to shine the spotlight on?
I’m going to go close to my heart and choose my bestfriend of 14 years, Emily White.  She’s a singer-songwriter. We’ve talked about this “crazy dream” of ours – being a musician and an artist, since we were teenagers together. We’ve gone through so many ups and downs, and it’s hard to say how well we’re doing now or how far we will go, but the fact we are still doing it makes me so happy and proud.

12.Where can we stalk you? (websites, blogs, social media info)

http://michellejanelee.com

http://instagram.com/squirreljtree/

You can also follow http://www.homelahello.com for a dance project I’m hosting/participating in during the month of August.

13.Anything else you’d like to (over)share?
Rashida Jones

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In the Werkshop: Sold!

In the Werkshop: Sold!

We sold our first piece today! It was for a wonderful couple who are hosting a memorial this weekend and are using the experience as a motivation to complete their home projects. We feel so honored to add a little ray of happiness to their process. What made it even more special is that they spotted the first piece Sarah ever made behind some other boards and fell instantly in love. We will make sure to post pics of the first Miss Morningwood in her new home soon!

The muscle behind Miss MorningWood


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Sarah Cobillas tells us why she does what she does, proving that she is more than just a pretty face and a strong arm:

 

I believe that women are mentally and physically stronger than the limitations that society has put on us. I believe that women are strong enough to make lives that challenge the status quo. I believe that as a woman, the art that I create can inspire other women to have the confidence to also create. I want to learn about sustainable design and master my craft so that I can teach women how to make things for themselves. I know first hand what a transformative experience it can be to create something from nothing.

 

As a girl who was interested in things that are traditionally dominated by men, I was always told I would never be good enough to compete. Looking back at my career in the military, in a position where women were rarely represented, I proved to myself that not only could I compete with men, I could also surpass them. My life in the military was incredibly challenging, but I am grateful for the wisdom I gained after my experience. It opened my eyes to the limitless possibilities that myself and other women can achieve. At the end of my enlistment I was given a chance to move up the ranks and become an officer. I turned down the offer because I believed that outside of the military I would have a greater chance to impact my community.

 

I am creating my own ideal of what success can mean for me.  I know that creating things and helping people is what fulfills me. My goal is to make sustainable design accessible.  I want to open the doors for the women who never imagined they were strong enough to handle machinery and create quality pieces for themselves.  I want to create beautiful and affordable furniture for people who never thought that they could afford to own a piece of art. I want to be a part of the movement of sustainable design, not only to preserve our environment, but also to sustain our most under-priviledged communities.

 

My art is a process of renewal and transformation. I try to infuse new life into discarded objects whose fates are otherwise limited to decay. In this same way, I want to inspire people to unearth the blessings in their alleged deficits. My dream is that people like me realize that our perspective is necessary in the art world and our lives are worthy of beauty.  I believe that creativity has no limit and by supporting one another, instead of fighting each other, we all have the ability to unlock our full potential.