Jun Lee: Carved in Wood and Stone

Artist-in-residence program brought printmaker Jun Lee to the Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus to share the meaning behind

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Although it was not her initial dream, Jun Lee graduated from Cranbrook Academy of Art and Minneapolis College of Art & Design. She was studying graphic design, until one day, she finally discovered her true vocation in life: printmaking.

One of her biggest inspirations, Tom Huck, who is a printmaker in St. Louis, Missouri, creates large-scale satirical woodcuts. He runs his very own press by the name of Evil Prints. If it was not for him, who taught her all the wonderful things about printmaking, she would not be where she is today.

“It is a box of chocolates. You do not know what you can find inside it,” said Jun Lee as she looked at all the projects she had made inside those walls where she once worked.

Cutting wood and stone is essential for Lee. She uses a technique called relief printingwhich is when the artist carves drawing into the top of any wood cutting or stone using tools as gouges, and then cover it with ink. Later on, the artist can put any paper onto it, where the images are projected.

Lee uses various animals as a subject in her projects, such as roosters, chickens, and rabbits. In the school where she studied, she met a salesman who was selling chickens. She always had a desire to buy one and take care of it. But unfortunately, shortly after she bought the animal, it passed away. Lee was devastated because she never experienced a death in her life before then. It may have been just a chicken to many, but Lee felt otherwise. Losing that chicken was very painful for her.

However, she did not give up and Lee bought another chicken. That one survived a little bit longer than the last. Her heart was, again, torn. Despite her continuous suffering, Lee had an interesting personal takeaway from it all — those chickens were like life itself.

In Lee’s perspective, we are like those chickens inside the box, waiting for the day we have to survive in this life. Most of them would not last too long. But others would, and the rest of that percentage would grow as a rooster. We are constantly being challenged, looking for survival, and giving one hundred percent in all the things we do. Since then, she promised herself that her art would grow with that vision and essence.

Her other inspirations include Edgar Allan Poe and The Brothers Grimm.

Jun Lee is someone who gives her everything in her projects, working an average of 60 to 80 hours per week. She loves everything about printmaking, even though sometimes she has to sacrifice the majority of her precious time that could instead be spent with her friends or family.

Even now, Lee feels like a chicken. She thinks that there is a long way before she can be considered as a rooster because she is constantly learning. When the inspiration hits at 2 o’clock in the morning, she cannot be stopped. Her only company are her two cats, who give her the strength that she needs every so often when she feels like giving up.

But nothing and one can retain her; this road of hers is not finished yet.

“It is my job. But at the same time, I chose to do it, and I love it!”


To learn more about her work, visit http://junleeprints.com/
You can also visit her during the Fall 2018 Semester in the 193A Studio Room in CF Building every Monday and Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.