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Issue Three:

Helen Lee

WINTER 2020/21

Visual Art

For your safety: what kind of mask do you wear?

Bittersweet Lace

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Catberry Cryptomeria

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Hemlock Bamboo

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Cypress Toxicodendron

Artist Statement

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Nightshade Sweets

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Artist Statement

Many of my interests and curiosities lean towards the quiet, the subtle. I often wonder how we can lean a bit closer to ourselves, others, truth, nature. My hope is the work I create will help to amplify the voices of Asian American women, making our narratives more visible while building connection and accessibility in all communities.


This series was made March 2020 while in quarantine during an Artist Residency in Japan. Concurrent with the residency, I was also enrolled in an online Poisonous Plant Medicine course. With the rise of COVID-19 and daily mask wearing, during my time in isolation, I reflected on the internal masks we all wear. What do we hide from? Who do we wish to be? 


Collecting dried or fallen leaves and flowers, I would amuse myself in my tiny room, placing them over my face like a mask. As we wear our physical masks to protect ourselves and others against the virus, these harmless plant masks symbolize protection against the digital versions of deadly plants. A twisted, whimsical play on the parallels of safety and toxicity.


There is an overpopulation of us.

We are selfish.

We are self important.  

The earth is slowly dying.

Are we healers?

We are killers.

Quince Logo 500

Helen Lee (she/they) was born and raised in Chicago to immigrant parents from South Korea. She received a MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and BA from University of Hawaii at Manoa. They create performances and visual art works that examine facets of cultural identity, racism, shame, and ancestral trauma.

QUINCE magazine

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