My paper cutout drawings seek to contemporize an ancient Chinese folk art, paper cutouts. Once practiced by generations of village women, rapid modernization and urbanization in China threatens the development and future of the art form.
To extend this incredible artistry, I replace the benign subject matters in traditional paper cutouts, such as folklore or celestial animals, with a blend of images drawing from my background and training in Asian, European, and American cultures and arts.
Rich in cross-cultural references, my works explore issues including power and domination, political and social conflict, and gender and cultural expectations. Whether the images appear allegorical, whimsical, poetic, personal, or political, duality and tension dominate within these fictional scenes of internal psychodramas and the filigrees of their delicate beauty.
In forming the images, I gather ideas and create custom patterns, symbols, and motifs from the Internet, books, magazines, television, vintage photographs, and my own digital illustrations. As well, I employ both Eastern and Western compositional approaches, including bilateral symmetry, multiple perspective system, extreme form reduction, exaggeration, symbolic figuration, modular pattern, and decorative design.
My creative process is both spontaneous and meticulous. To balance the extremely laborious and precise hand cutting process, I compose the images with a level of automatism and free association. Typically, I create digital templates before hand cutting the images on rice paper. Using an X-Acto knife, I glide the tip of the blade on rice paper like a brush, a method coming from my calligraphy and painting background. Although the hand cutting process demands from me extreme concentration and fastidiousness, it is also at once immensely gratifying and spiritual.
To draw focus on the images, calligraphic lines, and contrast of the positive and negative space, I do not apply color to further embellish the work. Light play and shadow are integral to the overall impact of an image, adding depth to the two-dimensional picture plane.
Artist Bio / CV
Bovey Lee is a Hong Kong born, Pittsburgh-based artist. She works with and combines a wide range of media, including drawing, painting, digital media, and most recently paper cutting. Since 2005, Bovey’s paper cutout drawings have extended an ancient Chinese folk art through invention by incorporating personal and contemporary elements that have not been used in the traditional craft before.
Bovey’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY; Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, PA; Asian American Arts Center, NY; Kennedy Museum of American Art, Athens, Ohio; University of California at Santa Barbara, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Beijing, China; Fukuoka Museum of Art, Fukuoka, Japan; and others. Her work is held in the permanent collection of the Hong Kong Museum of Art and in private collection. Bovey’s work is represented by Grotto Fine Arts Gallery in Hong Kong.
Bovey is a recipient of Pennsylvania Council on the Arts in 2008. In 2007, Bovey was a nominee of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and was also named Mid Career Artist of the Asian American Arts Center in New York. She has received funding from the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, Jack K. and Gertrude Murphy Fine Arts Fellowship from the San Francisco Foundation, CA, and Urban Council Fine Arts Award, Hong Kong.
Bovey’s work and biographical achievements are included in Exploring Color Photography: From the Dark Room to the Digital Studio (McGraw-Hill), Exploring Motion Graphics (Thomson/Delmar Learning), Who’s Who in America (Marquis), and Who’s Who in American Art (Marquis).
Her educational background includes a BA in fine arts from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, a MFA in painting from the University of California at Berkeley, and a second MFA in digital arts from Pratt Institute in New York.