Artist Timothy Hyunsoo Lee doesn’t want you to feel his pain. Through his work, however, he does want you to briefly engage in his reality.
The Seoul-born, New York-raised artist struggled greatly with his identity growing up. His American peers thought him too Korean, his Korean peers thought him too American. This cultural discordance led to a youth filled with anxiety and panic attacks. Although these struggles never left him, as a neuroscience student at Wesleyan University, Lee found that he was able to channel his experiences into works of art. He has since translated his scientific background and his emotional struggles into complex and labor intensive masterpieces.
“I’m able to transform [my anxiety] into a more generative process, rather than have it scoop out parts of me,” said Lee of his work.
Lee primarily uses watercolor for its unforgiving permanence. With brushes, ink and paper, he creates stunning visual works that relate to identity, uncertainty, and perception. His translations of emotion have gotten him far; in 2014, he won the VSA Award for Best Emerging Artist, an award given to notable young artists with disabilities.
This week, Full Frame turns its Close Up lens on Lee and his quest to redefine identity through art.
Follow Lee on Twitter: @timmyhlee