competition contemplation | jun lee opens july 5

the burden trophy | 6 layers reduction woodcut, 2018 | 30 by 42 inches | $2,500

BENSON – The little gallery is pleased to host “Competition Contemplation” by Jun Lee during the month of July in conjunction with the 2019 Frogman’s Print Workshops. The opening reception is Friday, July 5, from 7:30 to 10:30pm at 5901 Maple Street.

Lee, a printmaker from Falls Church, VA, works in large format woodcut using animals as metaphors to convey competition in our daily lives. She currently serves as the printmaking artist in residence at the Lee Arts Center in Arlington, VA, where she has focused on large-scale woodcuts and screenprints.

Lee attended the Minneapolis College of Art & Design, where she earned a BFA in illustration in 2002 and a post baccalaureate in printmaking in 2004. In 2007, she received her MFA in print media from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, MI. 

Lee was awarded the 2018-19 DC Art Bank grant by the Government of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and was one of the semifinalists for the 2018 Sondheim Artscape Prize (Baltimore, MD). Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Below is her artist statement.

My body of work attempts to evoke the different moments of our competitive lives; pieces that express the spectrum of competition from hiding away to preparing for a fight. The reality is that all life is competition, and we create barriers in our minds that allow us to think we have a space we can step into where the competition stops. That constructed space allows us to regroup and enter the next fight toward our goal. Every attempt might not succeed or look glorious, but every victory is built upon the foundation of loss, suffering, effort and sacrifice. The ability to be successful is not dependent on the number of triumphs you have but rather your willingness to get up and continue the struggle after a defeat.

I grew up in Seoul, South Korea. When I was in first grade, there was a man who sold chicks outside of my school. They were so cute and appealing I had no choice but to buy one. I prepared my chick a bed and some food, but it passed away within a week. I did not know why it died and cried for days. Over time, I purchased several more chicks, but none survived longer than a month. After that, I promised myself I would never get a chick again.

This unforgettable childhood memory has been my obsession and inspiration for quite some time and made me realize the inescapable truth of life – that competition always surrounds us. All the chicks were equally cute, desirable and wanted to get picked so they could come out of the box, even though they knew nothing of the challenges that waited for them. This mirrors our own development as people; during childhood, we want nothing more than to become adults without knowing all it entails, yet once we become adults, we seek ways to cope with the constant pressure of competition that surrounds us. My work uses the chick as a metaphor of desire and fear in this competitive thing called life; a rooster symbolizes a winner or a loser, but one that can anticipate the demands of the fight. The rooster still has fear in his eyes, but hides the fear with his vicious comb, fearless feet and exotic feathers. Every time he walks into the fight ring, he stands with pride and holds his head high. I used to see myself as a chick, lost but still fighting. Now, this chick has finally gotten what it wished for – to be a rooster, the last fighter standing.

The exhibition runs through July 27. The little gallery is powered by Polecat Communications. Hours of operation are Tuesday through Friday from 3:00 to 6:00pm, Saturday from 10:00am to 1:00pm and by appointment. For more information, call 402.681.1901.

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