Updated: Apr 19
文 Text \ 謝蕎安 Joanne Hsieh
圖 Image \ 李雪華 Sarah Sulhwa Lee
Sarah Sulwha Lee was born in Seoul and now lives and works in New York City as an artist and art consultant. "New York is such a strange city. It is beautiful and chaotic at the same time. When I look up, the skyline is overwhelmingly beautiful; when I look down, however, I see a mess and the city is full of desperate people just trying to survive."
The perfect day for her would be to be able to enjoy her morning coffee and spend the entire day working in the studio. "I sometimes do gallery trips and I like to walk around Tribeca. The galleries in Tribeca are not as big as Chelsea galleries, but many young contemporary galleries recently moved to this area. My favorites are Peter Blum, Monica King, and Canada."
Sarah and I met at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, she was always wearing simple but elegant outfits, and always a bit mysterious. "I like simple. I love to wear black and grey clothes. I’m not really interested in makeup or hair. I don’t think I look artsy at all. I am trying to keep my living space as simple as possible, especially the color. My room is all white and grey except for my plants. This is my secret way to separate my living space from my work space."
Lee was invited to participate in Art Taipei 2018 with Artnutri Gallery, (and now represented by the gallery.) While it was short and sweet, we were able to meet up and chat, "This is my first time in Taipei and working with Artnutri Gallery has been a wonderful experience." Artnutri Gallery was founded in the 80s in central Taiwan and traditionally specializes in contemporary Chinese art. "I am honored to be part of their transitioning into working with younger, international artists. Also, though this trip has been short, it's been amazing. My favorite place was JiuFen, where the filmmaker Miyazaki was inspired when he was making "Spirited Away". Walking around the village was quite surreal."
我問她如何形容自己的作品，李雪華：「我的畫是一個幻想中的空間，幽微、安靜，有時像一個平滑的夢境，有時像千變萬化的海市蜃樓。」 失敗為成功之母是她的創作理念。「假如我一次畫五張圖，通常只有一到兩幅作品令我滿意。我會把失敗的作品完全塗掉或銷毀。我大部分的創作是油畫和壓克力。」媒材之間產生的化學變化，被她用來描繪空氣中的溫度、謐靜的空間或詭異的氣氛。「我最近最喜歡的顏色是 Cerulean blue (蔚藍、青藍色)，他能創造一種深層、寧靜、romantic又黑暗的心情。」
Lee describes her painting as "an imaginary space that is quiet, subtle, smooth, unreal like a dream and volatile like a mirage. I sometimes put mysterious figures/creatures in the space as a storytelling agent and to confront the viewer as if from another world."
"I make multiple paintings at the same time. My practice is about dealing with failure. If I make five paintings, I am usually satisfied with only one or two. The piece that I consider a failure, would be completely covered or destroyed. I predominantly use acrylic and oil. I think about how the effect of each material could be used to describe beyond visual effects, such as temperature of air, the absence of sound or feeling of eeriness. I recently fell in love with Cerulean blue. It creates a deep, calm, romantic and dark mood."
她的靈感來源通常取自其他形式的創作，比方小說、電影、動畫或是攝影作品。「我喜歡取電影或小說裡面的某一幕來 “改編” 成繪畫。我嘗試讓第一眼天真無害的畫面之下帶有諷刺的意味。人生也是如此，是各種矛盾的存在。」
"Sometimes it takes days or weeks to get something clear in my head on what I want to do. Everything is in steps. In my most recent series, I have been listening to “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven repeatedly. I helps me be in a certain mood and it is transferred in my work." Her ideas usually come from other forms of art, a novel, film, photography or animation, focusing more on the atmosphere of a certain scene. "I am particularly drawn to creating image that is naive at first sight and sarcastic as it is digested. I think of life as the same way. It is a coexistence of conflicted matters. I want my work to reflect how I see the world."
作品畫面中矛盾又變化無窮的感覺，就像她本人，比方說，我沒想到她在大學時期曾就讀獸醫系。十五歲移民加拿大，李雪華像許多海外學子一樣，從此四處搬遷的生活。「我從小就愛畫畫，但從沒想過長大可以當藝術家。高中時我跟隨父親的願望，注重理科，大學時我在 University of Nebraska（內布拉斯加州立大學） 讀了兩年的獸醫預校。」
"I moved to Canada at the age of 15, and have moved around a lot since. I loved art classes as a kid, but I never thought I could live as an artist professionally. In high school, I naturally followed my father’s interest which was science. I went to University of Nebraska and studied pre-veterinary science for a couple of years. In the meantime, I took studio painting and figure drawing classes as elective courses and just fell in love with it. At the age of 22, I transferred to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. That was the beginning of my official art education. I did my Master’s in Painting and Drawing at Seoul National University and School of the Art Institute of Chicago."
對於藝術學位的看法，她建議想深造的學生：「 藝術碩士班可以是一個改變人生的好經驗，但若沒有心理準備，或只是因為不想出社會而選擇繼續讀書，很可能會折騰身心又浪費金錢，我個人就經歷過。 我在韓國讀碩士期間，創作產量豐富，什麼都做，但其實不知道自己真正想要做什麼。最後我又回到芝加哥讀第二次研究所。」
"SAIC was definitely a huge influence. I wouldn’t be making the work I am making now if I had not gone to SAIC. It was brilliant in a way that the school let me do whatever I wanted. I was in the Painting and Drawing department, there were 18 faculties just in my department. Whatever I choose to or want to do, I had someone to talk to. That made my art practice really about me."
Moving from Chicago to NYC, Lee says the Chicago art community felt more like a family to her whereas in NYC, "the city brings together so many artists with different backgrounds and experiences. It is incredibly exciting and nerve-wrecking at the same time to live as an artist in New York."
李雪華小時候很害羞，但發現畫漫畫或卡通會讓同學注意到她，「所以小時候曾想過要當漫畫家或畫卡通。雖然現在我的創作跟卡通沒有太大關聯，但我覺得藝術就和卡通一樣，是種溝通工具。」長大後的李雪華依然對用“藝術”和外界溝通極感興趣：「除了畫畫，我靠參加讀書會來認識新朋友。我目前最喜歡的一本書是 John Brockman 的 “What Is Your Dangerous Idea?” 這本書在講來自科學家、哲學家或藝術家所提出的 “危險” 想法，而這些想法可能會造成社會大眾的不安…這類的書讓我更加體會“藝術” 之於社會的功能和重要性。」除了創作，她也熱愛支持其他創作者，她不定時會把自己的工作室騰出來舉行迷你畫展。而李最欣賞的人物包括 Christopher Nolan、Ｗes Anderon（皆為知名編導）和 Richard Dawkins（生物學家）。
"I was very shy as a child, but I found that my classmates pay attention to me when I draw, so for a while I liked the idea of being a cartoonist when i grow up. Although there is not much of a connection to animation in my work now, I see art as a communication tool just like animations and cartoons." As a grown up, Lee is still extremely interested in the idea of communication through "arts", "I meet people outside the art scene through book clubs. I particularly like books that challenge sensitive topics. My all time favorite is “What is your dangerous idea” by John Brockman. This book is about "dangerous" thoughts of people in a variety of expertise, such as scientists, philosophers, artists, that some people would react in ways that suggest a disruption of morality and ethics. The existence of such books remind me of functions of Art in the (real) world."
Lee is inspired by people such as Christopher Nolan, Wes Anderson and Richard Dawkins. Other than creating, she loves to support fellow artists and often turns her studio into a space for pop-up shows.
同樣身為女性創作者，我問李雪華是否曾因為女性的身份而遭遇困難。「我在韓國工作的時間不長，但是在美國，的確，不論怎樣都會被冠上“亞洲女性藝術家”的身份，而非純粹 “藝術家”。如果你的手法比較細膩又喜歡用粉彩，馬上會被冠上“女性主義” 或被形容是 “decorative art”（裝飾性）。但是紐約目前有一波重新檢視女性主義的熱潮，最近有一本書叫做 “New York New Wave：The Legacy of Feminist Art”（作者：Kathy Battista）；而古根漢美術館也正展出許多女性藝術家的作品，包括 Helma Af Klint：Paintings for the Future。或許現在的我，以“亞洲女性藝術家”的身份在藝術界競爭，會比我上街遊行更有影響力。」
As an Asian female artist myself, I asked if she's ever encountered any difficulties here in the United States or in South Korea. "It is difficult for me to talk about the case in S. Korea because I have not worked enough as an artist there. In the United States, yes. It is extremely difficult for me to get rid of the “Asian female artist” label and I don’t think it will get easier soon. If you are a female artist that uses vibrant or pastel colors with a delicate hand, you will easily hear the discussion about “feminine art” or “decorative art”. Nevertheless, I think I am at the right place at the right time, there is a huge wave of feminist movement now in New York that is trying to re-evaluate contemporary women artists along with the legacy of 70s’ Feminist movement. Art historian Kathy Battista recently released her book “New York New Wave: The Legacy of Feminist Art” and Guggenheim is showing a lot of female artists’ work including “Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future."
"This is the kind of issue that evolves and requires new discussions over generation after generation. I think personally, for me, surviving and competing in the art world as a "Female Asian Artist", might be more efficient than me being out on the streets protesting."
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