Lily Martina Lee
“There are over two hundred and twenty cases of unidentified human remains in Miami-Dade County. As many of these cases grow cold, they become forgotten people not unlike the forgotten places where they were found - sites along canal banks and roadways, near businesses such as auto parts stores, equipment rental, tobacco outlets, gas stations and truck washes, and in pockets of undeveloped land. These nonsites and the unidentified bodies found at them are ubiquitous and become blurred - many will forget about the news story of a body found just as they struggle to recall if the sewing and vacuum store is between the Burger King and the payday loan place or after both or before or if there’s also an oil change place somewhere in there...It all fades into the tonal milieu of contemporary commuter life where true identity remains elusive.
For the Commuter Biennial, I am making projects to commemorate some of the unidentified cold cases of Miami-Dade County. As a motorist approaches the work, they may initially not distinguish it from the nonspecific detritus of urban sprawl. Upon driving towards the work, the intentionality of the heavily manipulated textural panels the armatures support begins to come into focus. Here the tonal milieu of the nonsites is ruptured with devotional craft. Heavily pleated and ruffled plastic table cloths in colors that reference the clothing found on the unidentified bodies mimics the texture of coffin liners. Metaphorically, each piece functions as a provisional funerary structure, yet the sensitivity of the labor and craft is mitigated by the sterile materiality. Where identity remains elusive, do these projects spark interest in these forgotten people or do they become the strip malls and fast food restaurants of grave markers?” - Lily Martina Lee
Lily Martina Lee (lives and works in Boise, ID) memorializes the forgotten, the discarded and the overlooked. She juxtaposes intimacy and anonymity in her embroidered and appliquéd memorials to unidentified human remains, her beaded scratch ticket medallions and her car hood portraits based on the tattoos of fugitives wanted for non-violent crimes. Working in sculpture and textiles Lily Martina Lee aims to depict an alternative construct of the American West through the themes of true crime and transportation. Lee has received from institutions including the Idaho Commission on the Arts and the Alexa Rose Foundation. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, notably at the Boise Art Museum, the Tacoma Art Museum, the Textile Arts Factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, and in Guimaraes, Portugal in the Contemporary Textile Art Biennial. Lee received her BFA in Fibers with a BA in American Indian Studies and an Anthropology minor and her MFA at the University of Oregon. Lee is an Assistant Professor of Sculpture at Boise State University.