Helen Lee presented a gallery talk on her part in the Chazen Museum of Art’s Faculty Exhibition, “Cloud Sentence,” Thursday afternoon after the installation of her artwork. Lee’s talk gave insight into the inspiration for her work as a part of the exhibition.

The year 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the Chazen Museum of Art. In honor of this celebration, the Faculty Exhibition welcomed proposals from an array of departments that utilize art-making. Faculty artists were prompted to respond to collections within the museum or the museum’s public space and architecture. 

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Lee’s “Cloud Sentence” features 10 window displays along the pedestrian bridge of the Chazen Museum atop Library Mall. The placement of these hand-tinted mirrors reflect images of the sky downwards onto pedestrians, inviting them to look up to the clouds. Lee’s fascination with both glasswork and the transient nature of the medium speak volumes to her identity as an artist. 

Fascinated with public spaces, Lee took to the skies, embedding her work within the bridge above Library Mall. Lee noted the decision to place her work within the bridge stems from her undergraduate education as an architecture student as well as her fascination with clouds. 

Lee connects the suspension of clouds with her connection to language. Lee is a Chinese American and was raised primarily by her grandmother. They spoke in Chinese to one another, a point of connection unique to their relationship. At age 20, Lee lost her grandmother and subsequently lost her fluency of the Chinese language. 

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“Cloud Sentence” serves as a relational piece connecting the power of language with the material behavior of glasswork. The suspension of clouds serves as an allusion to her suspension of the Chinese language with the loss of her grandmother. 

Lee noted most days the clouds aren’t visible through the hand-tinted mirrors. Instead, viewers are only able to see a palette of shades of blue. 

Lee is currently an Associate Professor with the art department of the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin. She describes herself as an architect, glassblower, graphic designer and poet. Helen Lee’s work is currently visible to the public within the bridge of the Chazen Museum of Art.