Bomie (Bonnie) Lee is a conceptual artist based in Los Angeles who is originally from Hong Kong. Her eclectic mixed-media work ranges from animations, performance, printmaking, and zines, to hyper-real paintings of potatoes, and crocheted Ramen noodles and T-Bone steaks. Some of her recent projects revolve around the challenges of acquiring food during the pandemic, and the pleasures of container gardening, and Zoom cooking sessions during COVID isolation.
Lee’s whimsical approach in the studio gives her work an appealing sense of play. After earning her MFA from Claremont Graduate University, she taught in an elementary school for over ten years. Lee returned to art school, earned a second undergraduate degree in Illustration from the ArtCenter College of Design, and developed their curriculum in 3-D printing. One of her animated shorts was selected for the Women Cinemakers Biennial in 2018, and she was featured in Voyage LA the following year.
I straddle both worlds of illustration and artmaking. I feel left out when I walk into a museum or gallery because my art is best experienced in person and in real-time. When I was growing up, I had very few Asian-American artists to look up to. When I taught elementary school, my students always looked up to me as an artist. I gained confidence from their support. We created a gallery in the basement and made our own art world in a small Charter school in Los Angeles. Though I felt alienated in the conventional art world, I felt like a celebrity in the eyes of my students.
When Lee first arrived in the U.S., she changed her name to Bonnie, but recently reverted to Bomie. Over the past few years, she has taught printmaking to inner city students, exhibited her work in galleries in Los Angeles and Joshua Trees, and submitted animations to domestic and international film festivals. One of her favorite things about art making is being part of a creative community. She considers her final output a ‘byproduct’ of the connection she feels while sharing her ideas and work with others.
Lee’s food-related drawings and prints, 3-D printer-generated cookie cutters, and crocheted noodles, fried eggs, and steaks, blend hints of Andy Warhol, with Wayne Thiebaud’s food paintings, and Meret Oppenheim’s fur teacups. Her explosion of creativity during the pandemic, and her ability to put her own spin on everyday items, are a clear indication of her resourcefulness as an artist, and an inspiration for others to make the most of things close to home.
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Bomie Lee — Artist Statement
Giving is important to me. Equally important to me is that my art is free. My art is about love with no strings attached. It explores giving without expecting anything in return. There is a performance aspect to my work. In life, we have obligations. In art, there are no constraints.
Bomie Lee – Grant Submission Work
Description: When the pandemic first hit, I resorted to online shopping. This project is a commentary on instant gratification and defiance of the convenience of technology. I started container gardening and fell in love with it.
Description: This is a zine created from a cooking experience with friends on Zoom. Maryam and her mom (from Iraq) taught me how to make Dolma. This is a page from an instructional booklet inspired by the cooking session.
Description: For a period of time, I did everything with potatoes: Drew them, ate them, made artwork, created potato prints, researched them. With lots of blemishes, this potato manages to have a smile on its face.
Description: For a duration of 26 days, I did different configurations of a tree. One is made of rocks. Another is made of felt. Cookie was one of the trees. Anything goes as long as it resembles the shape of a tree. I wove them together like an accordion card.
Descriptions: My boss gave me a book on the architecture of Los Angeles. During sheltered-in-place during the pandemic, I drove to different locations to draw the old buildings of Los Angeles. I made drawings, printmaking, and send them as postcards.
Bomie Lee – Artist Bio
Bomie (Bonnie) Lee is an artist based in Los Angeles. Originally from Hong Kong, Bonnie was Bomie before 1989. She changed her name to Bonnie to better integrate into a new life in the U.S. She was an elementary school teacher for over 10 years and went back to art school to learn how to draw. The boundary between her art and life is drawing and the love of the drawing line. It weaves together all aspects of her life.
Bomie Lee on the Web And Social Media
Here is where to find out more about Bomie on the web and social media:
About the Artist of the Day Series
All artworks have been published with permission of the artist. Our "Artist of the Day" series is a regular feature highlighting artworks from the 100's of grant applications we receive. The "Not Real Art Grant" is an annual award designed to empower the careers of contemporary artists, and this is one way we honor all entries we receive. Find out more about the grant program here.