VERONICA CASARES LEE
HSPVA graduate and New York-based artist creates “Women of Serenity” for local nonprofit
Those who walked into the ballroom of the Hilton Americas Houston Hotel on February 24 around noon could not have missed the beautifulâ€ˆclay sculptures of artist Veronica Casares Lee.
Her “Women of Serenity” pieces, created to help raise money for The Neighborhood Centers, Inc. adorned more than 50 tables at the nonprofit’s annual Heart of Gold Celebrationâ€ˆLuncheon that day. Each of the statues was available for purchase — but only to the fast-acting attendees who rushed to claim them!
Lee, who lives and works in New York City as a full-time (and celebrated) artist, grew up in Houston. Her sister, Marisol Casares, works at Neighborhood Centers, Inc. Thus, the connection!
Lee creates about 200 pieces of art each year; each one avidly collected by admirers from all over the world.
When Lee was in middle school, her art teacher was impressed with her creativity and talent and encouraged her to apply to The Highâ€ˆSchool for the Performing and Visual Arts.
The application requires prospective students to submit a portfolio of their work and completion of a series of exercises assigned during the audition at HSPVA.The exercises were not easy. They involved such things as:
- Drawing from imagination, memory and observation
- Creating compositions by responding to word images, phrases or narratives
- Creating compositions and designs by drawing and/or manipulating various materials within a frame of references
Lee was accepted, and she attended HSPVA for four full years, graduating in 1994.
“After I graduated from high school,”â€ˆsaid Lee, “I worked and saved my money. A year later, I moved to Brooklyn, N.Y. to attend Pratt Institute’s School of Art and Design, where I had been offered a scholarship.
“When I started my studies at the Pratt Institute, my primary interest was painting,” said Lee. “But, in my sophomore year, I became more interested in working with sculpting. By the time I graduated fromâ€ˆPratt, in 1999, I was creating more and more clay pieces.In 2000, she married another sculptor — Patrick Lee.
“My father-in-law pointed out to me that it was not common to see fine clay sculptures at art shows. He thought I could do well, financially, if I focused on that art form.
“Over time, I started exhibiting my work at the annual art and craft shows in New York City — like the show at Lincoln Center, the Holiday Fair at Grand Central Station and Crafts on Columbus. People liked my work and were buying it,”â€ˆsaid Lee.
Lee and Patrick are now the parents of two boys: Sebastian, 11, and Joaquin, just two months.
Today, the couple owns their own studio. It is located in Haven Art, a large warehouse that houses a collection of studios in an open floor plan, inspiring open minds. It is situated in historic Port Washington, N.Y.
“I take my art more seriously since I’ve had the boys,” said Lee. “It’s hard to make a living as an artist. You have to have a certain discipline to be successful. You can’t wait for people to ‘discover’ you or your work; you have to market yourself.”
Lee said, “I view clay as a three-dimensional canvas upon which I paint, carve and silkscreen. My work is a product of my formal fine arts education combined with strong elements of my Mexican heritage. The focus is on visual aesthetic and design. I don’t approach my work conceptually, which allows the process to be spontaneous and playful. I am blessed that my passion is my livelihood.”
The Lees are currently in the process of building a large artist’s residence and studio near the pyramids in Michoacan, Mexico. Soon, they will be dividing their time between it and their home in New York.
If you would like to view some of the Lees’ work, please visit www.monk-e.net.