Betty Lee

Physically, the space is that of a laundry. At heart it is the place I call home.
It is the place where my parents taught me how to hold strings for cats cradle. And how to fold paper cranes.

It is the place where I folded masses of white shirts and tied them in bundles with strings.
At eight years old I emerged a white collar worker.

There are ways to iron a shirt. There are ways to fold a shirt. Ways of ironing and folding like machines do.

The perfectly laundered and ironed shirt is beautiful to look at. The starch that seeps within the fibers produces a glossy veneer. The collar and cuffs are sculptural curves, visual glimpses of strength and beauty. The shirt that envelopes the person who wears it offers presence and authority.

Every day the shirts fly through the air amidst the steam and metal, swift fingers flutteringly within the folds.

Betty Lee was born and raised in the Midwestern United States in a city where hers was the only Asian family. She earned a B.A. at the University of Illinois, Urbana in 1971, and studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago before moving to California. She earned an M.F.A. in 1985 from the California Institute of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited in group shows throughout California in addition to one-person exhibitions at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles Center for Photographic Studies and James Madison University. Lee is a frequent guest lecturer and teacher. In 1997 she received an individual artist grant from the City of Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department in recognition of her contribution to the contemporary art landscape of the city. Her work resides in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Autry Museum of Western Heritage.

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