JJ Lee
JJ Lee
JJ Lee
Associate Professor
Faculty of Art

Area(s) of Expertise

painting (mixed media), drawing (mixed media), identity politics


My paintings connect and re-interpret Western and Chinese painting traditions. I appropriate colonial, scientific, historical and medical images from textiles, botanical illustrations, advertising and acupuncture charts to create undefined environments.These diverse sources signify the barrage and collision of disparate ideas of twenty-first century life.Through this process I look at the intersection of culture and hybrid identities. The European still life genre, such as the –memento mori–, encompasses ideas of the transience of life and of illusion."Traditional Chinese bird-and-flower paintings are also symbolically rich."By referencing trompe l–oeil techniques and flat ornamental patterning simultaneously I–m also playing with different definitions of space.By exploring the construction of the image I–m also exploring how much we dissect and analyze gender, race and other categories of identification. The trust that we put into scientific –truths"and systems of classification are thereby challenged.By doing this I hope to create a new reflective platform on which to see ourselves. ––"I often paint on fabric such as Chinese silk brocade, or"with Chinoiserie toile patterns. This refers to my mother's trade as a seamstress and the transmission of skills from one generation of women to another. My images address notions of history and culture, beauty, desire and identity. The end result is personal, historical, aesthetic and rooted in many truths and fictions.


Master of Fine Arts, York University, Toronto, ON 1999

Bachelor of Fine Arts, Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, Halifax, NS 1992

Professional Experience

Artist-In-Residence, Banff Centre for the Arts, Fall 1994, Winter 1995 Artist-In-Residence, Vancouver Art Gallery, Oct-Dec 1996

Selected Exhibitions


Combo #1, Redeemer University Art Gallery, Hamilton, ON (solo)

Reproduction,Earl Selkirk Gallery, Toronto ON (solo)

ReOriented, Ross Creek Centre for the Arts, Canning, Nova Scotia (solo)

Inventories, Capacity 3 Gallery, Guelph, ON (solo)


Hurry Up and Wait, group exhibition curated by A. Luis, Smithsonian Curator; Asian Arts Initiative, Philadelphia PA

Mixed Media(multimedia event incl. dance duet created, performed by S. Liska and S. Lee)

Painting 2017, Paintings by Contemporary Canadian Artists(Jurors: P. Edmonds. C. Griffin), JB Aird Gallery, Toronto ON                             

Back to the Drawing Board,with Amy Swartz and Natalie Waldburger, Loop Gallery, Toronto ON

Experiencing Perspectives,juried group exhibition, Mercedes Benz, Toronto ON

Project 31, juried group exhibition,OCAD University, Toronto, ON


Experiencing Perspectives,juried group exhibitionMercedes Benz, Mississauga ON

Chinoiserie, Loop Gallery and  Capital One North York Gallery, ON (solo)

Clarington Visual Arts Centre (Invitational), Bowmanville, ON

I AM NSCAD (juried), Anna Leonowens Gallery, Halifax, NS


Faculty Show (Invitational),The Great Hall, OCADU, Toronto ON

First Impressions (Invitational), The Great Hall, OCADU, Toronto ON


Sign Languageswith Mei Lee Ogden, loop Gallery, Toronto, ON (solo/two person)

OIL/Change (Invitational group), Central Art Garage, Ottawa, ON Fall 

Artists Teaching Artists,CWSE Hallway Gallery, OISE, University of Toronto, Toronto ON (three person)


Spotlight on 40 years: Artworks from the Canada Council Art Bank (Invitational group), Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa, ON

Collective Vision (Invitational), Loop Gallery, Toronto ON


Dream in the Flower, Index G, Toronto, ON (solo)


AAFNY, invited guest artist by Blunt Collective, New York City, NY

2009                 Experiencing Perspectives 2009-2010, Daimler Financial Services, Missisauga ON

2008                 Migration, LOOP Gallery, Toronto, ON (solo)

2007                 Arts in the Workplace, Investor’s Group/Women’s Art Resource Centre, Toronto ON

2006                 Fabrication, Elora Centre for the Arts, Elora, ON (solo)

2005                 Still Life with Tangents(traveling (solo))Lennox Contemporary, Toronto and Gallery 96 Stratford ON

2003                 art@suite 500, TD Centre, York University Shulich School of Business, Toronto ON

2002                 New Canadian Painting,RBC Painting Competition, Ottawa City Hall Art Gallery, Ottawa ON


Naturalia,A-Space Gallery, Toronto, ON (solo)

From the Eastern Edge, I-Land Gallery, Toronto w/ Robert Bean, Marlene Creates, others, Toronto ON


Fresh Paint,MEG Gallery, Toronto ON Curated by the ZenMix 2000 Collective

Art and Healing,James B. Aird Gallery, Toronto, ON

1999                 ARTBOX, York University Shulich School of Business, Toronto, ON

1998                                China Turns, Ontario Gallery of Chinese Art, Toronto, ON

1997                  Tracing Cultures IV: Cultural Difference and Migration,Burnaby Art Gallery, BC (catalogue)

                           Au nom du la terre, Language Plus, Alma, Quebec PQ

1996                 topographies: aspects in recent BC art, Vancouver Art Gallery (catalogue) 

Passage, Pitt Gallery, Vancouver, BC (solo)

Piecing, Neutral Ground Gallery, Regina SK (solo)

1995                 Currents: an exhibition of contemporary art,L’Atelier, Vancouver, BC (catalogue)

1994                 In the Absence, three-person exhibition, St. Mary’s University Art Gallery, Halifax NS

Paintings, The Other Gallery, Banff Centre for the Arts, Banff AB (solo)

1992                 START: Painters of Promise,Studio 21 Fine Art Gallery, Halifax NS

                           Contemporary Artists in Nova Scotia (cat.),Mt St. Vincent University Art Gallery, Bedford NS

 1991                The Lucky Eggroll Show, OO Gallery, Halifax, NS

Awards \ Grants

2018                 Shortlisted for: The Price Teaching Excellence Award, The Inspired Teaching Award: Faculty of Art, The Inspired Teaching Award: First Year

                        Canada Council Research and Creation Grant for The Drawing Board

                         Ontario Arts Council Exhibitions Assistance Grant for ReOriented

2017                 Toronto Arts Council Creation Grant for Mixed Media

                         Nominated for Inspired Teaching Award: Leadership to Advance Teaching, OCAD University

                         Nominated for Price Teaching Award, OCAD University

2012                 Nominated for Price Non-Tenured Faculty Teaching Award, OCAD University

2010                 Canada Council Project Grant, Visual Arts

2005                 Ontario Arts Council Exhibitions Assistance Grant

2004                 Visual Arts Winner: Asian-Canadian Visual Arts Fund (North American Association of Asian Professionals)

                        York University Purchase Award                              

2003                 RBC Investments New Canadian Painting Competition: Central Canada Winner

2002                 Canada Council Mid-Career Project Grant

2000                 Ontario Arts Council Mid-Career Artist Project Grant 

                        Ontario Arts Council Exhibitions Assistance

1999                 Ontario Arts Council Emerging Artist Project Grant

1998                 Susan Tannenbaum Scholarship (York University)

1997                 BC Arts Council Arts Scholarship

                        York University Entrance Scholarship                    

1996                 BC Arts Council Project Grant

                        Canada Council Travel Grant 

                        Canada Council Short Term Grant

1995,1994     Banff Centre for the Arts Financial Award                                                                  

1991              Effie May Ross NSCAD

                      Endowment Fund Scholarships

                      Nova Scotia Talent Trust (Government of Nova Scotia)

1989               Centennial Scholarship, NSCAD

1987               Centennial Foundation Scholarship, NSCAD

Selected Publications


Gairola, Vibhu. Article:ART:Inside the private art collection of OCADU president Sara Diamond”,Toronto LifeMarch 14, 2017 

Front cover reproduction of “Papaya”: The Lark Ascending, Peddlar Press, Toronto ON  2017

Seah, Daphne. Pixable.com, Featured in online article about mother-daughter collaborations  www.http://www.pixable.com/article/inspiring-­‐mother-­‐daughter-­‐artist-­‐collaborations-­‐photos-­‐92994/

Featured Artist, Fowl Feathered Review International Quarterly Issue 12, 2015

ArtSync, ArtSync: The Book2010-2011, 2011

Experiencing Perspectives 2009-2010,Daimler Financial Services, Mississauga (catalogue), 2010

RBC Canadian Painting Competition: Ten Years.  RBC/Canadian Art, 2008

Carte Blanche II: Painting. Magenta Publishers, 2008

Slate, front cover reproduction, February-March 2001

Language Arts, front cover colour reproduction, March 2000

Featured Artist’s pages, MIXmagazine, May 1998

Tracing Cultures IV: Cultural Difference and Migration,(catalogue)Burnaby Art Gallery, 1997 

Topographies: Aspects of Recent BC Art, (catalogue)Douglas&McIntyre/Vancouver Art Gallery, 1996

Event: Douglas College Review, one year of front cover reproductions, 1995          

Currents: an exhibition of contemporary art,(catalogue)L’Atelier, Vancouver, BC 1995

Professional Affiliations / Boards / Juries

Member, Loop Gallery Collective, Toronto, ON 2005 to 2013, Writing and ESL (English as a Second Language) ––"Committee, Ontario College of Art and Design,"2008 to presentMid-Career and Senior Jury Member, Toronto Arts Council, Toronto, ON 2007Arts Jury Member Ottawa, Canada Council, Nov. 1997,1999, 2004Board of Directors, A Space Gallery, 2003-2004Juror, Painting Applications, Toronto Outdoor Art Show, 2004Panel Member: Painting on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, for the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, ON 2001––"Vancouver Facilitating Committee, Asian Heritage Month"1996-1997Board Member, OR Gallery, Vancouver 1996-1997Lotusland: Chinese-Canadian artists, writers + performers Collective, Vancouver 1995-1997–––