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Mi Young Lee

 Mi Young Lee

M.F.A., University of South Dakota


The Artist

Mi Young Lee was born in South Korea where, as a child, she was steeped in the philosophical and artistic traditions of her culture. As she was raised, her progressive parents saw to it that she was also introduced to philosophies and concepts of art as they have developed in other cultures around the world. 

While she studied art and began her development as an artist, she found that the traditional Korean art forms of portraiture, landscapes and floral paintings left her desire for self expression unsatisfied. She began to explore western techniques of painting and abstraction to give voice to her ideas and feelings. Mi Young then decided to continue her development as an artist outside of South Korea, where she could experience a culture where abstraction was more prevalent as an art form.

To that end, she decided to continue her art education in the United States. Moreover, in order that her immersion in western culture would be most profound, she selected an area of the United States where she felt she would be least likely to encounter Koreans or other Asians. South Dakota fulfilled that criterion so she investigated USD's College of Fine Arts. Liking what she discovered, she proceeded to complete a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1985, and then a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1988. 

After attaining her M.F.A., she began her career as a professional Fine Artist, participating in competitive juried group art exhibitions locally, regionally, and then nationally, many in which she won awards for her artwork. Additionally, she has also had numerous solo exhibitions in galleries throughout the United States.

In 1995, she took her career abroad, making her international debut to critical acclaim with a solo exhibit in a prestigious art gallery in her home country of South Korea. She has since continued to expand her resumé with exhibits in China and Germany as well.

In addition to her career as a Fine Artist, Mi Young Lee is also a professor in the College of Fine Arts and periodically gives talks to students about making a career as a professional artist.

The Art

In her statement of philosophy and technique she says: "The style and techniques I utilize in translating my feelings to images have grown from within myself as a result of my emotional response to my work and my life's experiences. The actual source of the energy that inspires me and the effect that my work has on other people is not my primary concern in creating my art. While I am pleased when people find something beautiful in my work that they can relate to, my purpose for creating is not to decorate, but rather it is to visually express my feelings. My paintings are a composite of geometric forms, organic shapes, gestures, and texture, combined in a kaleidoscope of color to create an image of harmony, energy and optimism."