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Sammy Lee is an artist based in Denver, Colorado. Lee was born and raised in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to Southern California at the age of sixteen. She studied fine art and media art at UCLA and architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


Among her many accomplishments is a performative collaboration

with Yo-Yo Ma during the Bach project tour in 2018. Lee is recently a resident artist at Redline, serves as an ambassador for Asian Art at Denver Art Museum, and operates a contemporary art project and residency space, called Collective SML | k in Santa Fe Art District, Denver. 

Lee's work has been exhibited internationally and can be found in collections at the Getty Research Institute, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Spencer Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, and the Spanish National Library in Madrid.

CV: click thumbnail -->




"What use is three bushels of beads if none of them are threaded?"


As the sage Korean proverb suggests—value is in the reinvention, connection, and unification of the fragments. In the studio, this is my guide; I arrange chaotic piles of bits and pieces to realize a whole. Whether in installations or hand-made books, my work transforms and re-contextualizes familiar items into art objects that reflect my personal history.  The creative process resembles my experience of (un)conforming to a new homeland; it calls for certain self-renewal while summoning and translating the past. As a first-generation immigrant who spent much of her youth in a nomadic state, I use found objects and memories as material to investigate a sense of home. 


I keep my hands busy in water; soaking, squeezing, kneading, and pounding layers of papers. Preparing a paper-skin is a laborious and cathartic process; time and effort transform fragile and delicate sheets into a leather-like substrate that is resilient and tough, yet luminous. My paper-skins take the shape of objects, becoming a hollow representation of the original piece (bas-relief). Other times I wrap objects such as suitcases and discarded shop signs to create new three-dimensional artwork with creased textures and scar-like markings resulting from the weight of water that was once present.


Typically these works question socio-cultural issues surrounding a sense of belonging, home, the foreign body, cross-cultural psychology, and immigration. My installations and books are both interactive and relational; installations correspond to the body's range of movement as it explores and performs within the space. I want the viewer’s experience of my art to create new communal stories. The skin-like tactile quality and intimate hand-held scale of books emphasize the more introspective and private meanings. 




2021    Remind Me Tomorrow, solo exhibition, Emmanuel Art Gallery, Denver, Colorado 

2020    Remind Me Tomorrow, solo installation, People’s Building, Aurora, Colorado

2019    Saving Lions by Killing Them, two-person exhibition, Odessa, Denver, Colorado

2018    Molding Memories, solo exhibition, Lakewood Cultural Center, Lakewood, Colorado

2017    Constructing Spatial Books, solo artist’s book exhibition, B-platform Gallery, Seoul, Korea

            Intrinsic. Matter., two-person exhibition, Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego, California

2014    Beat. Spread Out., solo exhibition, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Boulder, Colorado




2021    ID, Please, Korean Cultural Center, Washington, D.C. 

            Colorado Asians, Artworks Center for Contemporary Art, Loveland, CO

            Unmasked: Artful Responses To The Pandemic, Southern Vermont Arts Center, Manchester, VT

            Armor, Center for Visual Art, Denver, Colorado

            Word Play, Arvada Center, Arvada, Colorado

2020    COVID Masks by artists, Vicki Myhren Gallery, University of Denver, Colorado 

            The Walls Between Us, Center for Visual Art, Denver, Colorado

            Pink Progression, Arvada Center, Arvada, Colorado

            Synesthetic Cyphers, Walker Fine Art, Denver, Colorado

2019    Turning Points, Royal University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

            The Fulfillment Center, Black Cube Nomadic Museum Headquarter, Englewood, Colorado

            Invictus, Global Livingston Institute, Entusi, Uganda

            Finding Place, Walker Fine Art, Denver, Colorado

            Mirth Myth & Mystery, La Napoule Art Foundation Alumni Exhibition, Redline, Denver, Colorado

            Now That I Have Your (un)divided Attention!, Redline, Denver, Colorado

2018    Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series, Scope art fair, Miami, Florida

            Wounds, Dar al-Kalima Gallery, Bethlehem, Palestine

            Urban Aggregate, Georgia, Denver, Colorado

            Liminal Space, DMZ Museum, DMZ, Korea

            Made in Colorado, Emmanuel Gallery, Denver, Colorado 

            Art & Soul, Art Students League of Denver, Denver, Colorado

            10x,10th Anniversary Retrospective Resident artist Exhibition, RedLine, Denver, Colorado

2017    Time Zone Converter, Korean Cultural Center, Beijing, China

            Complementary, Art Students League of Denver, Denver, Colorado

            Integrated, Korean Cultural Center, Washington, D.C.

            The Obscured Self, RedLine, Denver, Colorado

            Built, 23 Sandy Gallery, Portland, Oregon

            Nice Work If You Can Get It, RedLine, Denver, Colorado

2016    Nancy Benson Thread Studio Installation, Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado

            Artists' Book Cornucopia VII, Abecedarian Gallery, Denver, Colorado

            Wanderlust, 23 Sandy Gallery, Portland, Oregon    

2015    Readers Art, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota

            Art & Soul | Soul Struck, Space Gallery, Denver, Colorado

            Beyond Words, Foothills Art Center, Golden, Colorado

2014    World Script Symposia, installation and performance, Sejong Art Center, Seoul, Korea

            Coptically Bound, Abecedarian Gallery, Denver, Colorado

            The Show Must Go On, traveling exhibition curated by Total Museum, Seoul, Korea (show traveled Romania, Malaysia, Italy, India, Thailand and Singapore)

            Urban Volumes (생명이 자라는 책), Seoul Institute, Seoul, Korea



Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Bainbridge Island, Washington

Baylor University, Waco, Texas

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, California                          

Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Chapman University, Orange, California

Children’s Museum of Denver, Denver, Colorado

Colorado College, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Denver Art Museum, Denver, Colorado

Getty Research Institutes, Los Angeles, California

Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana                                   

Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, Indiana

Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania

Ottchil Art Museum, Tongyoung, S. Korea

Seoul Institute, Seoul, S. Korea                          

Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York

Spanish National Library, Madrid, Spain

Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, Kansas

University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California

University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California                           

University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado

University of Denver, Denver, Colorado

University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


2020    Further Reading, Touch essay, by Gillian Silverman, Oxford University Press

2020    Goraeya Magazine, Rockscape suit by Jiyon Kim (February 2020 issue) 

2017    The Korea Daily, Exhibition preview by Sooyeon Oh (November 9, 2017)

2014    Surface Design Journal, Summer (2014 issue)

2013    500 Handmade Books, volume 2, by Julie Chen, Lark - Sterling Publishing

2012    1,000 Artists' Books:  Exploring the Book as Art by Sandra Salamony, Quarry Books

Guild of Book Workers Journal 2012, ISSN 0434-9245


Denver Art Review, exhibit review by Ashten Scheller (Oct 1, 2021)

Westword, exhibit review by Susan Froyd (June 17, 2021)

Denver Post, exhibit review by Mark Rinaldi (June 7, 2021)

Denver Art Review, exhibit review by Olivia Kayang (June 4, 2021)

Art Spiel, interview by Etty Yaniv (May 26, 2021)

Voyager Denver, interview by Sarah Miller (February 16, 2021)

Denver Art Review, exhibit review by Danielle Cunningham (September 11,2020)

Westword, exhibit review by Michael Paglia (February 5, 2020)

303 Magazine, exhibit review by Cori Anderson (January 29, 2020)

Denver Art Review, exhibit review by Samantha Hunt-Durán (November 25,2019)

Westword, exhibit review by Michael Paglia (October 30,2019)

CPR News, exhibit preview by Stephanie Wolf (October 2, 2019)

Finding the Right Vessel, a conversation with Sammy Lee by Odessa (2018)


2017    Korea Magazine, cover story (author), No Lost Art (July 2017 issue)








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