For the month of July, FAM will be featuring American Folk Artists in honor of Independence Day! 

This week, our featured artist is Doris Lee, a commercial artist turned feminist, modernist folk art painter.  Lee grew up as a rebellious, self-proclaimed tomboy who skipped classes to paint and cut her hair short simply to defy authority.  Always an artist, she enjoyed great success in the 40s and 50s as a commercial artist, but continued to paint fine art as well.  As abstract expressionism took over at this time, she became relatively obscure, but she continued painting, and her work took on a more abstract look.  Her scenes of daily, American life–typical of folk art–had feminist and political undertones.  She painted women enjoying stereotypically male activities, riding horseback, or laboring in the home.  Her goal was to portray women as liberated and to document the invisible strength and labor of women.

As a young woman, Lee described her amusement when she knew that others were irked by her life choices.  She was criticized for not having children and for her artwork being too feminine or cartoon-like. She continued to be herself and do what she loved, regardless of the opinion of others.  If folk art is meant to portray the cultural values and aesthetics of a country, then I certainly hope we see more like this.  Thank you, Doris Lee, for being another artist who was ahead of her time! 

Country Post, 1938


General Store and Post Office, 1938

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