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Elizabeth Lee                                         Santa Cruz, CA



Elizabeth believes in the magical properties of energy, color and art. The artist’s life force merges with the invisible realms and comes forth during creation.

The layering process often begins as a print. Elizabeth applies color using a gel press, flattening the palette on the undersurface. She may paint with a brayer or use unconventional painting materials. Each piece requires a level of surrender, a collaboration with the canvas as well as the raw forces of imagination. Elizabeth’s approach is whimsical and optimistic, as a dream floating by, with a light respect for life’s absurdities. This reflects back her internal communications. She attempts to resolve the mysteries of biracial identity, cultural structures, immigrant experiences, alienation and impermanence, by using the resonance of color, whose waves of light are eternal.

Whether working in pure abstraction or more figurative renderings, Elizabeth maintains an ongoing dialogue with the living canvas. This is central to the art’s creation. Elizabeth’s process is expressionistic, reflecting her inner experience as she seeks the vibration of joy with color. Like Emily Dickinson who sewed her poems into her skirts as talismans, Elizabeth will often begin a piece with a Chinese character, phrase or poem, as part of the underpainting. The “calligraphy” anchors in the intention or direction of the painting. 


The Chinese characters also summon the magical dimensions and power of language—the symbols that map together our common humanity. Although these words will be pushed underneath a barrage of color and forms, they serve as a prayer vibrating outwards. Taoist principles, Chinese cosmology and elements of Asian cultures sometimes emerge as elements or references.


The narrative is an important component in her work. Even with completely abstract pieces, the title tells a story. This stems from Elizabeth’s background in theater, a degree in Creative Writing, photography studies and early years spent in film. Her cross-disciplinary approach has at its core the understanding that Art is a refuge, meant to put love into the world. 


Born during the Vietnam War at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Aurora, Colorado, Elizabeth currently resides in Santa Cruz, California. The child of a war-survivor, she identifies as Hapa, half-Chinese and half-American. Family and identity are frequent themes that she seeks to transform through art.




Solo Exhibitions


Pandemic Art & Spring Promises, Faust Downtown, Santa Cruz, CA



Elizabeth Lee, Botanic and Luxe, Santa Cruz, CA


家 Meditations on Home [Jia / Home] Nectar Creations, Santa Cruz, CA

Group Exhibitions


Changing Spaces, Radius Gallery, Santa Cruz, CA



The Process, Swift Street Gallery, Santa Cruz, CA

12 x 12, Cabrillo Gallery, Aptos, CA 



12 x 12, Cabrillo Gallery, Aptos, CA 

Open Studios, Chateau Orquevaux Residency, Orquevaux France

Winter Studio Warming, 17th Avenue Studios, Santa Cruz, CA

Summer Show, 17th Avenue Studios, Santa Cruz, CA


12 x 12, Cabrillo Gallery, Aptos, CA 

450 Pieces, Curated by the Sea Gallery, Santa Cruz, CA

Santa Cruz Open Studios, 17th Avenue Studios, Santa Cruz, CA 

First Friday Santa Cruz, 17th Avenue Studios, Santa Cruz, CA 

Healing Sessions, 3 Bros, Santa Cruz, CA


CZU Lightning Fire Fundraiser, Be Heart Now, Santa Cruz, CA


12 x 12, Cabrillo Gallery, Aptos, CA 


Student Exhibition 4, Cabrillo Gallery, Santa Cruz, CA 


Sequoia Sempervirens, City Dance, San Francisco, CA 

Artist Residency

2024 Chateau d'Orquevaux Artist Residency, Orquevaux, France

2022 Chateau d'Orquevaux Artist Residency, Orquevaux, France


Grant / Award

2023 Teravarna Finalist - Open

2023 Teravarna Honorable Mention - 6th Flower


2022 Denis Diderot Grant

2022 Art Show International Finalist - Abstract 7


2022 Art Show International Honorable Mention - Color 4

Music | Performance


Performer with Sculpture LA, by Muistardeaux Collective, SF MOMA


Fiddler, Family Scott, San Francisco, CA


Fiddler & Mandolinist, Pirate Band, San Francisco, CA


Multi-instrumentalist, Gallimaufry Orchestra, San Francisco, CA


Violinist, nateleslie, San Francisco, CA


Multi-instrumentalist, Show Me Where It Hurts, Exit Theater San Francisco, CA


Spoke Tones, SF Bicycle Ballet live accompaniment, San Francisco, CA


Bicycle Ballerina, San Francisco Bicycle Ballet, San Francisco, CA


2009-2011 AS Digital Publishing, Cabrillo College, Aptos, CA

2004-2005 City College of San Francisco,  Drawing & Illustration Classes

1993-1994 Certificate of Completion, Vancouver Film School, Vancouver, BC

1986-1990 AB English, Creative Writing, Stanford University, Photography Studies

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