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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. 





Public Collections: 

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

Selected Exhibitions:


solo exhibitions 

2020  Remind Me Tomorrow, The People's Building, Aurora, Colorado

2019  Molding Memories, Lakewood Cultural Center, Lakewood, Colorado

2017  Sammy Lee's artist's books 2005-2015, B-platform Gallery, Seoul, Korea

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


group exhibitions 


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

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


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



Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series regional winner exhibition, ART SCOPE, Miami Beach, Florida

Wounds, Dar al-Kalima Gallery, Bethlehem, Palestine

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

Urban Aggregate, Georgia, Denver, Colorado

Liminal Space, DMZ Museum, DMZ, Korea

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

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



Time Zone Converter, Korean Cultural Center, Beijing, China

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

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



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

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

Wanderlust, 23 Sandy Gallery, Portland, Oregon         



Readers Art: Concealed, Confined & Collected, Minnesota Center for Book Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota

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

Beyond Words, Foothills Art Center, Golden, Colorado



Tasting Scripts, World Script Symposia, installation and performance, Sejong 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



Boston Printmakers 2013 North American Print Biennial, Boston, Massachusetts

Tangibles: Beauty and Purpose in the Art of the Book, NAU Art Museum, Flagstaff, Arizona

Exposición premiados Masquelibros 2012, Galeria Rina Bouwen, Madrid, Spain

Artists Book Cornucopia IV, Abecedarian Gallery, Denver, Colorado

Print 528.0, Invisible Museum, RedLine, Denver, Colorado

Exhibition at La Salina de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain

Word 6: An Architecture, The Arcade Gallery, Chicago, Illinois





Further ReadingTouch, essay by Gillian Silverman, Oxford University Press (2020)

Goraeya Magazine (고래가 그랬어), Rockscape suit by Jiyeon Kim (February 2020 issue) 

Asian Art Association Newsletter, Volume 31, No.5 Featured Artist: Sammy Lee, Interview by Diana Conovitz (2019)

Korea Magazine, cover story (author), No Lost Art, July 2017 issue
The Korea Daily, Exhibition preview by Sooyeon Oh, November 9, 2017
1,000 Artists' Books: Exploring the Book as Art by Sandra Salamony, Quarry Books 500 Handmade Books, volume 2,

by Julie Chen, Lark - Sterling Publishing
Surface Design Journal, Summer 2014 issue
Guild of Book Workers Journal, 2012 issue 


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)











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