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3-D in 2-D with Zana

Zana Lee gets her own time in the spotlight

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You’ve seen Zana (pronounced ZAY-na) Lee around, at most all of the major art happenings that are becoming the hallmark of our mid-sized town.

You might associate her simply as Jeff Olson’s girlfriend, never realizing that she’s a talented artist in her own right.

That’s because Lee generally backs away from promoting herself.

But that’s about to change, when Lee presents a show of her work at Tacoma Third Thursday Art Walk April 19, in the auction space at Sanford and Son.

“My art is personal,” she explains.

The process part of her work comes from a conflicted place, a “female realm” where she attempts to make sense of her identity and her world after the death of her Middle Eastern mother, and after major changes in the world.

Of her last name, she explains, “My dad is Korean; I am the axis of evil.”

Lee started flexing her creative muscles in the eighth grade, with pottery.  The area of sculpture and ceramics were her artistic comfort zone until her college art school days at the University of Puget Sound. The grades she received in her 2-D art classes, lower than those of the 3-D classes she took, challenged her to focus on that aspect of her art; the perfectionist in her strove to strengthen any weaknesses she might have had.

“I find something wrong in everything I make,” she says, “There’s no one to impress but myself.”

For that reason, she has backed away from showing her work.

“Gretchen (Bailey, who has curated the bulk of the art shown at Sanford & Son) had to pull my teeth out to get me to commit,” she allows.

But for this, her first solo show, she hopes to show a series of her newer pieces, which combine her love of 3-D with her skill in 2-D, with stitchery and texture on raw canvas.  She utilizes a combination of elements — burlap, spray paint over screen, house paint, oil paints, and a variety of elements as diverse as snaps and zippers, which also show on the wearable art T-shirts she’s created through hand-dying and silk-screening.

The threadwork and applied objects might reflect homage to her mother’s prowess with thread and needle, while the images, ranging from flowers to faces (which may or may not show up in the show, depending on where Lee’s perfectionism takes her), may reflect her self.

“I’m really interested in multi-faceted things,” Lee explains.  “Art can be boring … let’s reinvent the wheel,” she suggests.

View Zana Lee’s reinvented wheel at the auction area in Sanford & Son; her works will be shown there for a month.

[Sanford & Son, 743 Broadway, Tacoma, 253.272.0334]

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