The Gentleman, the Lady and the Demon. These are the three main characters of local visual artist Mia Lee, whose stories are meant to speak for themselves.
“I paint through the lens of a Black woman from the South Side and Caribbean descent,” Lee said. “I have such an appreciation of the diaspora and how all Black people have such a diverse unique lived experience. But we have a lot of stories and things that intertwine us. It’s not always rooted through trauma. I explore the other side of things.”
While some of those stories may get dark, Lee said she uses bright colors to make the art, and the stories, more approachable.
“I like to create the narratives that people can see themselves in,” Lee said. “So that looks like my grandma, or these two people look like me and my partner. … I keep my narrative to myself and let people see themselves and create their own.”
One of Lee’s more recent creations is the cover art design for Chicago musician Chance the Rapper’s latest single “YAH Know”; Lee is featured in the music video. She has also partnered with other notable brands including Urban Outfitters, Nike and Arts, Beats and Lyrics with Jack Daniels, to name a few.
“Chad Ochocinco had on my jacket, and I was like, ‘What???!’” Lee said. “… But he did a Shannon Sharpe interview, and he was wearing it.”
“In my pieces, apparel and the dress is important to tell those stories, too,” Lee said. “It tells a lot about personality and their story. But I also do textile design with the scarves I make — I call them silkies. I take the work I make and transfer it onto clothes.”
When asked why it’s important for art to be relatable, Lee said, “I think that art has already been something people feel excluded from and has felt like something that people feel, like, a boys’ or elitist club. I want to make sure the door is open. Art is for everyone.”
For more on Lee, visit hotfunmia.com.
Follow Angel Idowu on Twitter: @angelidowu3
Angel Idowu is the JCS Fund of the DuPage Foundation Arts Correspondent.