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Elizabeth Lee - Abstract Painter & Mixed Media Artist

Identity as a Hapa Artist

Elizabeth was born to parents of an interracial marriage. Her father spent his childhood in post-Imperial China and fled the Japanese during WWII. Her mother was a Catholic, Michigan farm girl.


Elizabeth was born outside of Denver in an army hospital. Her father was a drafted physician during the Vietnam war. When his draft service ended, the family moved to the Midwest where she was raised. At that time, a mixed union was uncommon. In parts of the U.S. it would not have been permitted.

Being bi-racial gave Elizabeth a unique perspective on both cultures. Being between both worlds, but belonging to neither, also contributed to her sense of alienation. Identity and culture became common themes in her art.  Art was a natural sanctuary to express her feelings visually when words would not suffice.

(Ironically, the term Hapa, which has been adopted by many of half-Asian decent, comes from the Hawaiian word for "half". Initially derogatory, the whole phrase was Hapa haole, meaning half-white.)

The trouble with language.

Elizabeth studied English, Creative Writing at Stanford University, with additional studies in photography. She had thought to combine words and pictures through film-making, and pursued this direction until the end of the millennia.

Inspired by Nature

In 1996 Elizabeth met Master Zhang Xue Xin and began her lifelong study of Chen Style Tai Ji. The philosophy that our direct connection to the natural world comprises our physical selves, infuses all her artwork. At this time, the irregular hours of film-making and the unsustainable nature of the income forced a shift.

Art as refuge. Art as spirituality.

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