The Bridgeport Arts + Cultural Council is happy to honor Lee Walther as our February Artist of the Month.
Multi media – Conceptual Artist – Designer
A conceptual artist and designer, Lee is a member of Bridgeport’s vibrant Black Rock community. She is one of 17 artists on view at the University of Bridgeport’s Schelfhaudt Gallery in their current exhibit Black Rock Creative.
With a keen eye for design and a love for art, Lee Walther considers herself a “Dadaist”. For Lee, who has always been in the creative field relating to the arts, fashion and design, everything is and can be art. Inspiration is drawn from found objects, nature and images that can only be seen through Lee’s special lens and imagination where new concepts and ideas are created in different mediums.
A Visionary/Creative who easily sees the multi-dimensional potential for all sorts of objects and combinations, Lee creates original pieces of ‘Functional Art”
Lee’s removable boxed assemblages are incorporated in her unique “CreaTable”. CreaTables are a customizable table of her own design. A 20×20 handmade table, CreaTables feature a clear acrylic, empty lidded box that becomes a see-through center piece of the table. She hopes the design will encourage someone to’ think outside the table’ and tap into their own creativity by making their own art tableaus/ assemblages with. For example: memorabilia, floating candles, collectibles, miniature gardens, holiday displays, and treasures from the beach. Even a handful of coins and miniature toys take on a new perspective and dimension to become a piece of functional, interactive art. Lee’s work includes assemblages and empty tables that can be purchased individually or as a cohesive piece.
Lee’s unique ‘CreaTables’, boxed assemblages and collaged mirrors, incorporating removable jewelry that doubles as a jewelry display, were featured at the Armstrong Gallery Bridgeport Studio Tour and the Creative Designs Studio. Her CreaTables have been showcased at Spruce, Home and Garden, Westport, CT, and currently at the Monmouth Museum in Lincroft, NJ and the Schelfhuadt Gallery at the University of Bridgeport, CT.
With a diverse background, Lee’s additional projects include “Sense of Style” a wardrobe consulting/personal stylist venture and “Where’d You Get That!-Fabulous Finds” which was started following her position with the Fairfield Museum as a buyer/manager.
The BACC team sat down with Lee to discuss the Black Rock Creative exhibition and her current projects:
Q. Your work has recently been on exhibit at the Monmouth Museum in Lincroft, NJ and the Schelfhuadt Gallery at the University of Bridgeport, CT. What has this process been like as an artist?
A. It’s been very exciting and it’s all very new. Like a lot of artists we’re afraid to call ourselves artists-so I prefer to say I’m a creative. Because I don’t see myself as a “fine artist”, I’m more of an idea person-a creative person. I don’t think of it as “I’m going to make some functional art today”. It’s just the way I think. The ideas just come to me. I see ideas.
Q. You describe yourself as a functional artist. What does that mean to you?
A. Everything I do seems to have functionality to it. I see something and I think of different uses for it. For example, I started creating these collage multi-media mirrors. They incorporated jewelry into the design as part of the jewelry holder, but pieces could also be removed and worn.
Q. You mentioned that this was a new process for you. Can you tell me more about your background?
A. It all started to come together about a year ago. I finally decided, I wanted a studio and I found an amazing space at 305 Knowlton. I just jumped in.
Q. What was working in a studio like for you?
A. It was challenging at first. I was confronted with the idea that, what I might have done for fun in my own space at home, all of the sudden there was that fear of having to produce. I started thinking “I don’t have anything in me-I don’t know how”. And finally something shifted and that’s when everything started to happen.
Q. CreaTables are your newest projects. What was the inspiration for these pieces?
A. CreaTables were first shown at the 2012 Bridgeport Art Trail at Gallery 305K. I love the idea of this open centerpiece. It allows the table to be recreated depending on what is placed inside. I hope it helps engage owners to create their own little art piece into the table. The concept allows the person to tweak it and make it their own. Hopefully it will express something of the owner because they’re going to put their ideas into it. They can play.
Q. Is that what you have on exhibit right now?
A. Yes, I have three tables at the Schelfhuadt Gallery and one at the Monmouth Museum. But these all include assemblages as part of the table. Because of the nature of the CreaTable it can be regarded more as an interactive work of art or a part of custom designed furniture. I would like to share the design with interior decorators and designers as well. It’s interesting that it can work in both venues.
Q. What is an example of one of your assemblages?
A. “Melt Down” is a commentary on Global Warming. Here is a large glass bowl incorporating molded icebergs. Floating in this water-filled globe are acrylic ice cubes with a glass penguin perched on the vanishing ice berg. This was originally shown with a blue beta fish swimming in the water, further illustrating the effects of climate change. This has been displayed on a clear acrylic pedestal.
Q. The exhibit Black Rock Creative features 17 artists. Would you describe Black Rock as a creative hub?
A. There’s so much energy there. It’s filled with artists, writers, filmmakers, and actors. You’ve got that kind of diversity of the community that’s very engaged.
“The energy is palpable.”
I admire a chunky, glittery ring that Lee is wearing.
Q. I love that ring you’re wearing. Can you tell me a bit about Sense of Style?
A. Sense of Style is a way of helping women express who they are by the way that they dress. I like to think of it as using their clothes as the back-drop of a painting, creating the interest, the story of the painting and getting in touch with their creativity. I want to take women back to the time when they were children and they played dress-up with their mother’s clothes and everything was beautiful. I would go in their closet and assess their outfits, showing them how to put together an outfit 5 different ways.
I think it also relates to my functional art, how I see things and put them together.
Q. Do you have a favorite piece of clothing or “go-to” accessory?
A. I can’t pick just one. It’s like art, people ask what kind of art I like and I always say, “I know it when I see it”
Q. What inspires you?
A. I’m so visual, shadow, shapes….other works excite me; they bring about new ideas. Anything and everything! It’s a blessing and a curse. It starts in the head, the ideas come to me and then I play.
Q. What are you working on now?
A. In addition to CreaTables and my other projects I’ve also started creating felt abstractions mounted on pillows. It’s very interesting the way the color of the pillows create a frame.
Q. What’s next?
A. I don’t know. It’s definitely a journey. I was very creative in a lot of ways, but I really was a shadow artist. And now, at last, I’m finally coming into my light and out of the shadows. I’m really in my element and I am having a ball.
Lee’s work in the exhibit Black Rock Creative will be on view from Feb. 7th through Mar. 1st. The Schelfhaudt Gallery is located at 123 Arnold Bernhardt Center, University of Bridgeport, 84 Iranistan Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06604.
Written by Eve Liptak, Bridgeport Arts + Cultural Council.