Born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada, Lee began her formal training at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College in Corner Brook, NL. In 1998 she transferred to the University of Alberta in Edmonton, majoring first in sculpture, then switching to painting and printmaking. At U of A she earned her BFA with Distinction in 2000 and then went on to earn a M.A. (Art Conservation) and M.A. (Art History) from Queen’s University, Kingston, ON in 2000 and 2006 respectively. She currently resides in Calgary, AB, Canada, where she works as the Paper Conservator at the Glenbow Museum and as an instructor at Wildflower Art Centre, City of Calgary. Her current work utilizes watercolour, pastel, acrylic, pen, and other media.
Working full time and parenting, Lee has struggled to maintain her “professional artist” status as designated by Canada Council for the Arts and other public institutions, which also qualifies her to apply for funding to sustain an artist career. She feels trapped in the circle of “not enough work=not enough sales and exposure=not enough money=having to be employed=not enough time=not enough work”.
While making art has been part of who she is, the pressure and stress of “being engaged” with her practice has driven her to the point where she feels her whole life may be happier if she just stopped, if she gave up defining herself as an artist-who-does-other-work-to-support-themselves and embraced being solely an arts-industry-employee.
Through her participation in RFAOH, she wants to give herself permission not to produce art, to ultimately examine if letting go of “being an artist” will make her feel less pressure and stress, and return some joy to this aspect of her life. Her requested residency period overlaps with her son’s school year during which time she may participate in some activities without the guilt of her inner voice screaming ‘if I have any time I should be making art’.
Although she is hesitant to set out too detailed a plan for fear of creating a high pressure situation similar to the one that she is in now as an artist, one of her on-hiatus activities may be taking a class in clay. It is an area that has no association to her past art practice, and she wants to see if she can engage meaningfully with the process of creating, or whether it has become so entwined with stress/anxiety that any attempt to create is a trigger for feelings of failure, anxiety and inadequacy about her self-identification as an artist.
She hopes this hiatus would give her time and clarity to make a decision whether defining herself as an artist is worth it, or if not being an artist is better for her mental health, family life, and relationships. If she decides to return to art, she hopes it would bring fresh inspiration and perspective.
My experience as an RFAOH resident has been amazing. It is a cause for ongoing and future reflection that having an external, and thereby legitimizing, force say it was 'ok' not to make art, I let go of an immense amount of stress and gut-wrenching anxiety. I am not entirely comfortable with the idea that I need an outside agency validate my thoughts and actions.
I did the clay class I set out in my proposal and as I hoped it showed me that I am still in love with artmaking and am so very happy when I give myself over to the process. I had thought I would review Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way" as well but I decided (after a few months of seriously avoiding getting it off the shelf) that my reluctance was something I should listen to. If I was dragging my heels, forcing myself to re-read it was against the spirit of my hiatus.
With my mother-in-law passing away and then my father being incredibly ill, my hiatus ended up looking very different than anyone could have thought. I spent a full two months of it away from everything focusing on the people who truly matter rather than immersed in the 'daily grind'. Both the hiatus and these events have drastically altered my perceptions and goals.
I still feel battered and broken. But there's been a release - like when you have a bad tooth and once the dentist fills it you realize how miserable it was and now you're a bit boneless.
I'm on the mend.
I'm human and I have bad habits.
I feel like my hiatus had changed me and that I won't try to shoehorn myself and my work into a mold we don't fit. But I know it is going to take constant vigilence to not fall into anxiety and let it push me into areas I'm not happy with. Whether my hiatus will change the look of my work, I don't know yet. But it will certainly change the spirt behind it.
On Jun 21 2017, Lee Churchill commented on June 20: If I knew where I wasn't supposed to be, I wouldn't go!! :-P If you've got some idea of how I can be[...]
On Jun 21 2017, co-director (s) commented on June 20: Happy (fairly) big Birthday Lee! (: Twack on, all year!
I think it's the matter of what is "everyt[...]
On Jun 12 2017, Lee Churchill commented on June 8: :-) It definitely sounds like a fascinating talk.
With the idea of going for an MFA, S's situation[...]
On Jun 9 2017, co-director (m) commented on June 8: I wish we had a recording of Tehching's panel discussion in Venice last month where the convergence [...]
On May 25 2017, co-directors (s) commented on May 8: Family emergency sucks... Hope things are alright with yours![...]
This month has been eaten up by family ‘stuff’, stuff that’s not for online sharing but time and energy consuming. Now, in the potential homestretch, we are looking at a best possible outcome. And I’m feeling a huge sense of release and relief. This is going to be ok.
Provided an application gets accepted. BUT I am not going to dwell on that.
My other job has also started back up – two years ago I began to teach art classes at a city art centre evenings and weekends. It’s funny, I think it’s my favorite job I’ve had. When I finished my BFA in 2000 several of my friends went on to do teaching degrees, but knowing myself, I swore I’d never teach. At the time I was right I lacked any number of personality traits that make a good teacher; at the forefront were: being patient, non-judgmental, and having empathy. Sixteen years of life experience and having two boys have reformed me. 😀 And since its “Bell Let’s Talk” Day in Canada (#BellLetsTalk) I’ll mention that anxiolytics and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are awesome for increasing patience!
This term I’m teaching adults and kids – Arts Combo (a mash up class where you play with a different media each week), Oil painting, and Sculpture. I’m already having fun.
I also finished a project that’s been sitting in my studio for over four years! The idea was to make a crib quilt for a friend’s baby but once I designed and started embroidering the blocks it grew into something very different! So now it’s single bed size which worked out well since the baby is now a preschooler. I just have to mail it. Every one of these ‘late’ projects I finish and move out of my studio, the less weight I feel.
I’ve misplaced my laptop. I put it “somewhere safe”. It will turn up. These things always do.
I started a post on Dec 19th that I’ll let lie since it wasn’t that profound anyway.
In the intervening weeks I’ve done Christmas things – Christmas concerts (small children singing and dancing! :’D), Christmas food (toooo much food!), visitors, fires, candles! Christmas presents! Some handmade – I bound journals for both my boyos. We made gingerbread houses (late but better than not!) We went out to sled and skate and visit the local historic village. In short everything the season is supposed to be.
Some things were obviously different.
But the great thing about having kids is that even when we weren’t particularly feeling that festive we upped our game to make sure they still had a wonderful time. “Fake it ’til you make it” at it’s best.