Korean proverb "to hit a rock with an egg" served as the basis behind this image depicting Lee's heartache: "Eggs are so fragile and easy to break, so I felt they would be a poignant contrast to the firmness of the rocks," she says.
Like in all her photos, Lee's gaze is fixed away from the camera, and she acts merely as a prop in a larger narrative: "If the character looked straight ahead, it would make it hard for the audience to inflict their own emotions on the image," she explains.
Fears and negative feelings are represented as menacing crows bursting through a door in the floor, as a figure cowers in the corner of the room. "For me large birds are threatening, and the image of their feathers, beak, and curved talons is frightful," says Lee. The scene is fraught with turmoil, and the doors represent future changes and challenges that the artist will have to go through.
Lee's images have a cathartic effect on her life, but reliving events that inspired them isn't always easy:" I have to think about it over and over again which can sometimes be very difficult" she says.
I'll be back
In this photo, traditional Korean painted fans are densely arranged to resemble a whirlpool out of which a hand reaches for the rope above. Lee says that she left it to the viewer to decide whether the submerged figure has lost its grip and is being swallowed by the vortex, or is stretching out to grasp the rope: "I wanted to describe the despair of the situation, and at the same time, the hope that human will is able to save oneself from any hardship," she points out.
At first glance, this image encapsulates the idyllic innocence of childhood. But all is not as it seems, as Lee explains: "The clock is ticking toward midnight, evoking the soon-to-be broken spell from stories like Cinderella, but the girl wants to stay in her comfy, peaceful moment and familiar space. She is unaware that the night sky is cold out the window, and doesn't have a clue about what is waiting for her out in the world."
Lee used paperclips, diminutive objects which bear no threat in real life, to highlight how small worries can compile and turn into a burden we carry through life. The clips, like troubles, are sticking to the figure as she tries to walk away.
"I was confused, scared and at a loss, and I used optical illusion to express my emotional state", says Lee. By changing the dimensions of sewing tools, she gave everyday, mundane items a disquieting and almost aggressive air. "I tried to evoke the fear we feel when facing changes to the environment we are familiar with, and also the unforeseen difficulties which may lie in wait nearby," she explains. Lee calculated the proportions and drew the whole set by hand.
Sharp spindly veins seem to be charging toward the pregnant woman in the photo, and the imagery of blood vessels alludes to the inside of a womb. Lee explains: "This work is an expression of my premature self who isn't ready to go out into the world, and it is also a hint at new hope for the imminent baby or possibilities."
My chemical romance
The artist tried to express her difficulties in communication with some people through a maze of pipes which emit an obscuring white vapor. "I used yellow and black, as those colors are often seen on signs which warn of danger," she says.
The black dog in the corner of the picture represents a person who was troubling Lee at the time.
The lotus flower blooms with the rise of sun and closes with its setting, and represents birth and resurrection in various cultures. It is also thought to have a purifying effect, an association which Lee applied to her life: "I wanted to show my personal experience of being born again by overcoming negative elements that had dragged me down, and cleansing myself emotionally," she explains.
Reaching for the star
In this image, over 2,000 hand-painted paper cups are stacked together as bricks of a fragile castle, which represents the human need for betterment. Lee explains: "I wanted to express the process of heading toward your desire, along with the effort it takes to achieve your dream, which is represented by the star." The glass marbles spread on the floor have several meanings: fallen stars, grains of sand, and the danger of the paper-cup castle collapsing.