Artist Biography

Doah Lee is an interdisciplinary visual artist based in State College, Pennsylvania. Born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, she earned her BFA with a concentration in Painting and Printmaking from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Lee’s work employs symbolic imagery to explore themes of conflicted cultural translation, immigration, otherness, and femininity, while simultaneously investigating issues of self-identification, including race, culture, and gender. She is particularly interested in how children develop their identities, focusing on the competition between self-understanding and cultural, social, and political pressures.

Her artwork has been showcased in exhibitions in Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Seoul. She has been a resident artist at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and the Vermont Studio Center. Lee served as a curator and co-director of the nonprofit artist-run exhibition space FJORD gallery for seven years and was a visiting art critic for MFA students at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.

Doah Lee is currently an Assistant Professor at Penn State University.



Artist Statement

Sailor Moon, a mythical superhero schoolgirl, emerged as an icon in Japanese animation and 90s culture. Originating in Asia, she found resonance in American society through exportation overseas. Her prime time unfolded in both Asia and America, yet the Sailor Moons, each unaware of the other’s experiences, converge in a symbolic meeting within a Chinatown in the US. Here, they connect hands, weave fingers, and turn around, meeting the world with self-conscious eyes, revealing the ways in which the outer world consumes and perceives them in reality.

This artistic gesture forms a coalition of absent elements and moments across diverse spaces and times in distinct universes, reflecting my personal journey. Dislocating from Korea to the US has shaped my experience, unveiling the reality of living as a foreigner and an Asian woman in contemporary America. My artistic exploration delves into cultural symbols, addressing themes of conflicted cultural translation, immigration, otherness, and femininity, while challenging issues of self-identification within the broader context of race, culture, and gender.

Intrigued by the impact of media and image culture on individual identity formation, I draw from childhood memories to scrutinize the influence of images under socio-political and cultural pressures. I explore how children speak, listen, see, draw, and interact with influencing factors that reveal these pressures.

My studio process integrates diverse elements of printmaking, textiles, and installation into the medium of painting. From dyeing fabric to hand-sewing digitally printed textile images, screen printing, drawing, painting, and layering various images, this creative process responds to the complexities of navigating two different environments with distinct education systems and city politics. Through my work, I aim to reconcile fragmented and conflicted identities, employing a hybrid format that manipulates a full range of artistic languages — from sophisticated pictorial tools to childhood materials — in cute, naive, and uninhibited ways.
©Doah 2024