My studio practice fuses my trades as a glassblower and a graphic designer. I investigate language and the body by experimenting with glass and typography. My work posits language as a somatic experience. The confluence of objects and semiotic units in my work collapses the physical with the linguistic. In mechanical terms, I have an extensive repertoire of vitreous typography. I blow glass in capital Roman and lowercase script letters. I type on a computer with a font made of glass. I write with light; I write in shadow.
At the core of my practice is a curiosity about the morphological nature of language. My early work does this by traversing a circuit of relationships through glass, design, and the body. In the space of boundary, duality, and transformation, I dwell on the moments in which: breath becomes sound; sound becomes spoken; the spoken word turns written; and the written word is shaped back into dimensional form by my own breath.
Helen Lee is an artist, designer, educator, and glassblower. She holds an MFA in Glass from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BSAD in Architecture from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her honors include the inaugural Irwin Borowsky Prize in Glass Art in 2013 and the Edna Wiechers Arts in Wisconsin Award in 2014. She was nominated for a Louis Comfort Tiffany Award in 2015 and a USA Fellowship in 2016. Most recently, Lee received the Gold Award in Bullseye’s Emerge 2016 exhibition. Her work is in the collections of the Minnesota Museum of American Art, the Corning Museum of Glass, the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio, and Toyama City Insitute of Glass Art. Lee has worked as a freelance graphic designer for Chronicle Books and Celery Design Collaborative, and was an Affiliate Artist at Headlands Center for the Arts from 2009-2011. She has taught at Rhode Island School of Design, California College of Art, Toyama City Institute of Glass Art, Pilchuck Glass School, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Pilchuck Glass School, the Chrysler Museum Glass Studio, and the MIT Glass Lab. She is currently an Assistant Professor and Head of Glass in the Art Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.