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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, was selected as a Fulbright US Scholarand 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. 




2023      Untitled, two-person pop-up installation, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO

2022      Taking Root, solo exhibition, Freyer-Newman Center Gallery, Denver Botanic Garden, CO

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

2020      Remind Me Tomorrow, solo installation, People's Building, Aurora, CO

2019      Saving Lions by Killing Them, Two-person exhibition, Odessa, Denver, CO

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

2017      Constructing Spatial Books, Solo artist's book exhibition, B-platform Gallery, Seoul, Korea

              Intrinsic. Matter., Two-person exhibition, Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego, CA

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


2023      Breakthroughs: A Celebration of RedLine at 15, Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver, CO

              MicrologiesGregory Allicar Museum of Art, Fort Collins, CO

              Charged, AHL Art Foundation, NYC, NY

2022      Permanent Collection exhibit, Korea Gallery, Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO

              Cultivate, Center for Visual Art, Denver, CO
              Rice and Resilience, History Colorado, Denver, CO
              inVISIBLE | hyperVISIBLE, Dairy Arts Center, Boulder, CO

              Off the Shelf: Contemporary Book Arts, Gregory Allicar Museum of Art, Fort Collins, CO

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

              Armor, Center for Visual Art, Denver, CO

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

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

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

              Pink Progression, Arvada Center, Arvada, CO

              Synesthetic Cyphers, Walker Fine Art, Denver, CO

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

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

              Invictus, Global Livingston Institute, Entusi, Uganda

              Finding Place, Walker Fine Art, Denver, CO

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

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

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

              Wounds, Dar al-Kalima Gallery, Bethlehem, Palestine

              Urban Aggregate, Georgia, Denver, CO

              Liminal Space, DMZ Museum, DMZ, Korea

              Made in Colorado, Emmanuel Gallery, Denver, CO

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

             10x,10th Anniversary Retrospective Resident Artist Exhibition, RedLine, Denver, CO

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

              Complementary, Art Students League of Denver, Denver, CO

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

              The Obscured Self, RedLine, Denver, CO

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

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

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

              Wanderlust, 23 Sandy Gallery, Portland, OR

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

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

             Beyond Words, Foothills Art Center, Golden, CO

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

             Coptically Bound, Abecedarian Gallery, Denver, CO

             The Show Must Go On, traveling exhibition curated by Total Museum, Seoul, S Korea 

              (show traveled Romania, Malaysia, Italy, India, Thailand and Singapore)

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



Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Bainbridge Island, WA

Baylor University, Waco, TX

Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, CA            

Carnegie-Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA

Chapman University, Orange, CA

Children’s Museum of Denver, Denver, CO

Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO

Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO

The Getty Research Institutes, Los Angeles, CA

Indiana University, Bloomington, IN            

Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN

Lafayette College, Easton, PA

Ottchil Art Museum, Tongyoung, Korea

Seoul Institute, Seoul, Korea            

Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY

Smith College, Northampton, MA

Spanish National Library, Madrid, Spain

Spencer Museum of Art, Lawrence, KS

Sturm College of Law, University of Denver, Denver, CO

University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, CA

University of California Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA            

University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO

University of Denver, Denver, CO

University of Washington, Seattle, WA

University of Wisconsin Madison, Madison, WI

University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI


2023      Denver Life, Artist interview by Georgia Alexia Benjou (April, 2023)

              Luxe Magazine, Featured Artist by Christine Deorio (March/April, 2023)

2022      Review by Joo Yeon Woo and Sandy Lane in Expanding the Parameters of Feminist Activism, Palgrave Macmillan

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

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


2023    Hyperallergic, exhibit review by Sommer Browning (May 22, 2023)

            Southwest Contemporary, exhibit review by Gina Pugliese (April 24, 2023) 

            Denver Art Review, exhibit review by Danielle Cunningham (March 24, 2023)

2022    Denver Art Review, exhibit review by Grace Mary Bernard (November 29, 2022)

            NBC, 9News, feature story by Courtney Yuen, Mark Zoleta (July 12, 2022)

            Denver Art Review, exhibit review by Renée Marino (July 1, 2022)

            Southwest Contemporary, studio visit by Joshua Ware (Jan 18, 2022)

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

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

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

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

2020    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)

2019    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)

            Artsy, exhibit preview for Walker Fine Art by Sarah Magnatta (May 10, 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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