In Honor of Caroline Lee

In honor of the recent anniversary of sculptor Caroline Lee's passing, I re-post the writing below as well as a video recently shared with me by Mary Esther Lee and produced by Elizabeth Noble Lee.

In Memoriam: Caroline Lee

Post written February 7, 2014:

I had the opportunity to meet Caroline Lee two years ago. It was a wonderful moment aligned perfectly with a romanticized notion, the notion of the artist, the artist who lives in Paris, the artist who lives fiercely, exotically and independently from the mundane realities the rest of us concede to. This fiction was not entirely true, but it was close enough to take hold in my mind and imprint.  

The artist Richard Hunt led me to Caroline’s family home in Michigan. The home had been in the family for 100 years, located along the shore of Lake Michigan. When we arrived, the weather was cool, the house full of family, neighbors and friends, and it felt exactly as it ought – comfortable, full, worn and cobbled; as if every tree held profound memories, and each dysfunction and beauty had played itself out among child and adult alike. I did not know the stories, nor did I need to. I was greeted and introduced to all.

We wound our way through the house to a back patio. There, Caroline held court. She sat at a round table with friends gathered near, most in their late seventies, like Caroline herself. Caroline smoked incessantly, large ash hanging precariously from each cigarette bound to her grip. Her voice was honey, not heavy, husky but not masculine. She spoke of intellectual concerns at once fascinating and cliché. She bore kindly towards me, with great patience and no hint of condescension. Acceptance permeated among the unknown, without effusive interest or neglect.  

When the time was right, I, with Richard and Caroline, was led to a family room where the details of a future exhibition were discussed.  Caroline was pleased by the interest in her work. 

As time passed and the exhibition worked out, Caroline always spoke kindly and I took to her in a sweet way. There were many details, and when exhaustive, she simply called them as they were and we both kept moving.

The impact of Richard’s work to Caroline’s artistic life was astounding, the continuance of their friendship potent. They made a connection that was strong and enduring - a rare and significant loveliness.  Caroline’s work took many cues from Richard’s, but it was her own. I admired many of her sculptures, their expressive forms eloquent and at times uplifting. I admired her tenacity, her own romantic inclinations and her artist’s will that gave her no choice but to continue producing and responding visually to the world around her.

Caroline recently passed. I did not know Caroline, but I certainly enjoyed my time with her. It was a sincere honor to make her acquaintance.

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