Monday, December 5, 2011

Simply Perfect

so here's the description of the art I'm making (12/06-12/12/11) for the event sponsored by Patrón tequila (

for those who can't make it in person, I hope you will in spirit. :)

thanks for being a light!

a. :)

Felix Coeli Porta -天灯

In contemplation of the idea of “Simple Perfection” and that “Generosity cannot be re-gifted”, Felix Coeli Porta -天灯 developed. When completed, the installation will consist of 108 lanterns made with repurposed fabrics, hand-selected and dyed into different shades of red.

The numbers 1, 0 and 8 individually represent one thing, nothing and everything; 108 refers to the ultimate reality of the universe. It is an abundant number and a semi-perfect number in mathematics. There are 108 beads in a Buddhist mala (prayer beads), in addition to many references in other religions and traditions (e.g. 108 names of god in Hinduism and 108 virtues in Jainism.) It is believed that a total of 108 energy lines converge to form the heart chakra.

Red, in Chinese culture, is traditionally an auspicious color, representing happiness, blessings and good luck. The use of repurposed materials in art is my attempt to intervene in the process of consumerism and its effect on society and the environment.

Felix coeli porta, “Happy Heaven’s Gate”, is a line from Ave, Maris Stella, a plainsong hymn to Mary used during Vespers (evening services). 天灯 means “sky lanterns”, transliteration: “heaven’s lights”. In the past, before electricity, lanterns were used to light spaces, to guide the way, so one could see. Now, they illuminate temples as a symbol of brightness and enlightenment. Meanwhile, once released as communication in war, sky lanterns now carry felicity and wishes into heavens during celebrations and religious ceremonies.

Without light, we live in darkness; the 108 red lanterns form a tribute to the people who have made this city beautiful, inspired me and supported my art. They also represent the light of hope and love - my wishes of a bright future, for everyone.

ATYL, 2011

The paintings inspired by the installation will be available in an on-line auction (, with proceeds supporting the Chicago Artists’ Coalition ( For 37 years, CAC has been at the forefront of artist advocacy, providing a bridge between artists and the communities in which they live and work. It is CAC’s mission to educate the public on the value of art in society while providing support, advocacy, and professional development to artists in our community.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

new art

Also very, VERY exciting is the new piece of art added to my little collection of other ppl's art made by my friend and studio-mate, Mark (who is an awesome-awesome guy who does awesome-awesome work: (we traded art - he got "The Big D" i'm so excited about it for SOOOOO many reasons i can go on and on... i'll just show. Here's the piece:

oh, here are some of the pieces i managed to "snag" in the last couple of years:

(Vera Berdich, whose work started me on the whole printing obsession - if only i could take a time machine back to take her class!)

(Robert Lebron - it's Paris - and it's a pair, with New York - and i wish i had his skill with the palette knife)

(if anyone knows who made this print, even if it's an educated guess - PLEASE let me know! i fell in love with it and the price of under $30 was totally right :P)

okay, so here's a preview of the last 25 of the 108 - the series is called "Sugarpill". will explain later. stay warm!!

Seven in 3434

Another thing i worked on during this time "away" was to learn how to string a bunch of jpegs together to make a wmv file. really, i'm not sure why, but it's somehow not as simple as it should be. i am happy tho, with the 1st piece i finished, which was submitted to the UICA (

(Thank you, Betsy, for showing me the secret of CS2 animation! I look forward to making more vids!)

it's also about Mary and Guanyin. In fact, have I mentioned how I got "stuck" on this discourse? This statement on the video piece explains it:

“Seven in 3434” resulted from my investigation of the similarities and cultural significance and practices of Catholic Marian devotion and Buddhist worship of the Goddess of Mercy. The examination began several years ago, after sorting through my grandmother's belonging for cremation. Then, it was a personal spiritual exercise to reconcile the religion (Catholicism) in which I was brought up and the lifelong devotion (Buddhism) of the woman who raised me. Gradually, the concepts behind my art expanded and circled back to discourse and themes of tradition, femininity and of seeking meaning.

“Seven” represents the seven Stations in the Via Matris Dolorosa, a Lenten devotional practice from the Middle Age initiated by the Servites - seven Italian friars who devoted their lives as Servants of Mary. 3434 are the number of words copied from the liturgical service, which included seven Hail Mary’s and seven gospel passages. The duration of the piece is just over seven minutes.

While visiting Buddhist temples, I heard recorded loops of chanted prayers. They reminded me of perpetual novenas. While Guanyin is about hearing the suffering of the world, perhaps because of the miraculous tears from the eyes of statues and icons, to me, Mary is about seeing. One of the words repeated in the 3434 frames is “misericordia”, which is translated as “loving-kindness”. In Buddhism, it is “Mettā”. The practice of good will, kindness and benevolence towards oneself, one’s loved ones, strangers, enemies and all sentient beings can even be exercised in solitary silence. One Stanford University study suggests that a 7 minute loving-kindness meditation can increase social connectedness.

In essence, “Seven in 3434” also corresponds with my goal to instigate both external and internal change through my work. The digital and time-based nature of this piece is in harmony with my sustainable studio practice.

Here's the final draft of the vid:

copyright 2011, Alexandra Lee (ATYL)

wow December already?!?!?

ok, so i have NOT been slacking off during this time, i promise! just busy busy making art and working as many hours as possible. in between this time, i restocked my art-o-mat ( bin with the next 150 pieces of the 3x1000 series (devoted to the goddess of mercy - one of her incarnations has 1000 hands). here are some samples:

and the Works on Paper Residency has been extended for another 6 months - THANKS CAC ( for making it happen and MMPI ( for its generosity!

plus, i did finish the 108 goal for the last 6-month - just need to "process" the photos of the last 25-piece series and post them! (yes, there is progress!)

the goal for the remaining time at the studio is to finish 4 series. i've started on 3 of them already. and hopefully this weekend, i'll have time to get the 4th ready to roll. first, we'll have to see how long i spend this coming Sat at the car guy's place to get the dead battery replaced (i think the 7F weather finally killed it). plus, x'mas is coming on like a freight train! what's up with that???

Monday, August 9, 2010

080 pc15 life

Yeah, this is a little out of order in posting, but somehow I liked ending the series in the blog here with "Life" instead of "Dream".

The childhood song just popped in my head. I disagree that life is but a dream, that our actions - our efforts in perfecting the rowing of the boat and be happy while doing it - are meaningless in the grander scheme. Maybe it is up to each individual to transcend that dreamlike, boundaried (stream) life into a worthwhile reality...

079 pc21 dream

078 pc20 see