"Rad Talk" is a new column running on The Emma Edition, for 2013. In this column I interview creative people who make my life all the more rad and whose work I think deserves a wider audience. I’ll be giving them a forum to speak on things they may never been asked in a typical interview. Today I am featuring one of my favorite artist, Ed Bing Lee--a modern day would-be lovechild of Wayne Thiebaud and George Seurat. A new interview is posted on Fridays.
Q: Ed, can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself?
A: “Born and educated in San Francisco CA, 1933. I've a checkered career in employment, like many artist in America. The jobs that most influenced by choice to be an artist were firstly, a jobs with textile manufacturing firms, secondly, employment in educational institutions, and thirdly experiences as a freelance designer/artist.”
Q: How do you think having parents who were immigrants, influenced your view of art in America?
A: “Difficult to measure, my father died when I was seven. My mother like many Chinese women in America, worked in a sewing factory. By today's standard, we fell below the poverty line. Thank God for public education, when art education was still a vital part of getting a proper education.”
Q: How did you get interested in crafting?
A: “A large part because of my various employments in textile manufacturing world. I wanted to work in fibers but was not interested in having to work with any type specialized equipment, namely looms. Knotting as a technique is very flexible, adaptable, and immediate; by that I mean to say, with the first knot you're already into the project.”
Q: What attracts you to working with soft sculptures as opposed to another medium?
A: “Interest in fiber came first, although I started as a painter/printmaker. Early pieces were mostly 2 dimensional with occasional forays into basketry. My interest in art history lead to my very first series, PICNICS, wherein I juxtaposed snippets of paintings with current food images. I quoted Seurat a lot because of the unavoidable parallelism between knotting and pointillism. The concept of soft sculpture followed as I realized that the food images could stand alone, independent of any historic reference. The other part is that my skill level improved.”
Q: Would you consider yourself to be a Pop artist?
A: “If I'm a Pop artist, I guess it comes with the territory. There's a strong urge to classify and codify work in all the arts.”
Q: You often focus on creating macramé erected in the honor of America’s staple comfort foods. Why did you choose these particular foods for your series?
A: “They're so ubiquitous. The burger, despite its origin in European cuisine, is a recognized symbol of America fast food the world over. The loaded image is so convenient, even without any understanding of Art you can relate to the visual.”
Q: Where is the wackiest place someone has displayed one of your sculptures (Personally, I am hoping you do your next installation in a retro diner)?
A: “Haven't been invited to the party.”
Q: What themes do you hope your art addresses?
A: “Food as subject matter for art has a long tradition, (did the caveman paint animals because they were there or because they were food source?). For the few, it is my aspiration and certainly would be a singular honor, if my work were to be seen as a continuance of this historical tradition.”
Q: What else would you like to explore with your soft sculptures in the future?
A: “Newest pieces continue the food image with emphasis on the abstract, less reliant on their worldly counterpart. They are larger, monochromatic and hopefully incorporate unexpected touches. (see above).”
All art from this post courtesy of Ed Bing Lee
Q: Any exciting upcoming projects you want to share?
A: “In the works, hopefully a solo show at a local gallery, Synderman-Works Gallery. More importantly an invitation to participate in the Rijswijk Museum Textile Biennial this summer, special and exciting! Like artist the world over, the future is always an open ended question: the when, the where and what venue. For the moment, the work continues, a curse and a blessing.”
To learn more about Ed Bing Lee, check out his website here.
Follow me on Twitter @emmaedition