Michael H. Lee

"On the lee side of loneliness"


January-February 2019

Michael H. Lee Artist Statement

Decades ago when my family and I drove through rural Western towns we passed "Eat" cafes that seemed to me oases we should have stopped to enjoy. We also raced past trains with hobo's legs hanging free as the wind from open car doors. And, we witnessed handicapped people who staked out street corners. Back then I would sneak a look at people in need, always avoiding direct eye contact. These experiences helped shape my interest in photography.

For those who do photography 35mm cameras are often used when spontaneity is required. With my camera in hand my approach is to keep my eyes and mind wide open. My head swivels as I search out opportunities. Along the paths taken, I covertly and overtly photographed people, trying not to invade their privacy. If I sought permission, I offered copies of the images.The subjects in this exhibit cross social, gender and color lines and, as such, this exhibit is one facet of American life.

The photos in this exhibit seemingly capture the emotion that we associate with loneliness. I did not have as the goal to capture that emotion but after completing this project it seemed an apt title. Though my choice of subjects suggests the loneliness theme, not all of the people I photographed are necessarily lonely. Still, they might evoke in the viewer that emotion. In a sense, these photographs reveal as much about the photographer as they do about the chosen subjects.

My interest in photography emerged in the 1960s. In 2011, I received a Myrna Loy Center Grant to Artists to photograph Helena area Vietnam veterans. My book, A Silhouette of Liberia was published in 2017. My Liberia slides and B&W negatives are now archived and part of Stanford University's special collections. I am grateful to Helena's Lewis & Clark County Library for the opportunity to exhibit these photographs.

If you would like to know more about exhibiting at the Lewis & Clark Library, please contact the Adult Services Librarian at 406-447-6681 or suzanne@lclibrary.org

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