Jenna Lee is a Gulumerridjin (Larrakia), Wardaman and KarraJarri Saltwater woman with mixed Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Anglo-Australian ancestry. Using art to explore and celebrate her many overlapping identities, Lee works across sculpture, installation, and body adornment. She also works with moving images, photography and projection in the digital medium.
With a practice focused on materiality and ancestral material culture, Lee works with notions of the archive, histories of colonial collecting, and settler-colonial books and texts. Lee ritualistically analyses, deconstructs and reconstructs source material, language and books, transforming them into new forms of cultural beauty and pride, and presenting a tangibly translated book.
Driven to create work in which she, her family, and the broader mixed First Nations community see themselves represented, Lee builds on a foundation of her father’s teachings of culture and her mother’s teachings of papercraft.
Lee was honoured to be the recipient of several awards: the Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award at the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA); the Australia Council’s Dreaming Award; and, the Libris Artist Book Prize. She has been a finalist in national awards, including the prestigious John Fries Award for emerging and early career artists, the Footscray Art Prize, the National Works on Paper Prize, and the KWM Contemporary First Nations Art Award.
Represented by MARS Gallery in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia), Lee has exhibited in several national and international museums and galleries, including the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford UK, the Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane), the Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory, QUT Art Gallery, and Griffith University Art Gallery. Formally trained as a graphic designer, Lee has a Bachelor of Visual Communication Design, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Museum Studies.
WINNER Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award, NATSIAA (National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards) Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory, 2020
FINALIST Footscray Art Award, Footscray Community Art Centre, 2021
FINALIST National Works on Paper Prize, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, 2021
FINALIST KWM Contemporary First Nations Art Award, King & Wood Mallesons, 2020
WINNER Dreaming Award, National Indigenous Art Award, Australia Council, 2019
FINALIST Copyright Agency, John Fries Award for an emerging artist, UNSW Galleries, 2019
FINALIST NATSIAA, Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory, 2018
WINNER Libris Award, Contemporary Australian Artist Books, Artspace Mackay, 2018
Image: Jenna Lee, Rite of Passage, QUT Art Museum
Credit: Louis Lim