Today we’d like to introduce you to Christine Lee Smith.
Christine Lee, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
As a little girl I loved crayons and drawing, and I was surrounded by visual artists in my extended family. However, as I grew up and I started to experience both the impact of Dyslexia — and the shame — I felt the limitations of not being able to draw how my family members could. I pulled away from visual art until I found my first camera. It was buried deep in the back of a closet. It was a mint Canon AE-1 and I was instantly fascinated. In college, I took my first photography classes and learned everything I could, even picking up a job in a camera store nearby. Still, I didn’t consider myself an artist.
Fast forward to getting married, and my husband pointing out to me how much I hated my office admin job (I did, I was just in denial because I didn’t know what else to do). I thought I had to have a “real job” and I assumed one of those meant being miserable. So in that equation, if you’re miserable and making decent money you’re doing something right (not a recipe for success I now know). After arguing for months I finally agreed. And for the first time, I started getting paid to photograph people. It was amazing and hard, and surprising, and exciting. But still, I wouldn’t consider myself an artist because it was commercial work.
As the years passed the itch inside I felt to learn to express myself through art surfaced so I couldn’t ignore it. Friends who owned an art gallery saw my desires and gave me an opportunity to show my non-photographic work. That’s when I realized what had always been true: I am an artist.
Ever since I’ve worked on my own photographic work, as I’ve learned to re-understand my camera not only as a work tool but as the means to express my artistic work in the world. It’s been a journey of healing, and correcting bad assumptions, and learning to risk. Currently, I’m in a Master of Fine Art program at Azusa Pacific University, having never pursued art in school. And I’m loving every moment.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I primarily create photography, focused on fractal narratives of females. However, I’m also playing with re-interpreting photography as installation pieces.
I’m interested in exploring how both ends of the spectrum culturally available to women (saint or sinner) are means of objectification. I love being able to quietly put forth a question, or concept, and to hold the tension of non-simplistic answers in my work. I’m all about paradox and complexity and nuance.
I hope people take from my work the invitation to consider thoughtfully, stand down from over simplistic good/bad narratives, and a feeling of empowerment to more fully become who they were created to be.
What do you think it takes to be successful as an artist?
For me, success as an artist is defined by engaging with a concept, following it through to an artwork object, then watching it connect in new and surprising ways with my audience. I thrive on seeing people touched or impacted by what I’ve created, and I am so grateful for any moment I have to witness those times.
I’ve come to this definition of success through my own emotional and spiritual journey and learning to let go of expectations in a way that frees me to be more present to the moment before me. I’m also learning to find God in all things and to open my hands to the good things before me, and to ask for help when I need it. Not only does this make the process much more enjoyable for me, it frees me to be and become more fully who I was created to become.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
My online portfolio is available. They can also follow me on Instagram or on Facebook.
I also currently have pieces up at Biscailuz Gallery for Women’s History Month, at the Inland Empire Museum of Art exploring spirituality in art, Gallery 825 in Los Angeles for their show “Trappings,” and Biola University’s library gallery for their Others Imagining Initiative.
People can best support my work in three ways: 1) I am currently fundraising for my second year of grad school for my MFA program. People can donate to my GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/christineleesmithmfa/donate?wl=358598; 2) People can purchase original pieces or reproductions of my work. All pieces on my portfolio site are available for purchase in either form. Contact me directly for pricing information at email@example.com; 3) Follow along with me on social media! I’d love to meet you and connect.
- Website: http://portfolio.christineleesmith.com
- Phone: 562-546-2307
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/christineleesmithphoto
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/christineleesmithphotography
- Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/clsphotography
- Other: http://www.christineleesmith.com