It makes sense that Maggie Lee works out of her bedroom. Her multimedia creations—Jenny doll dioramas, confessional zines, and her Video Salad series—suggest an artist who is not only willing, but eager to mine her own biography for material. In Mommy, a feature-length film that screened in 2016 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the 30-year-old New Yorker unpacked her late mother’s colorful life using a range of sources including home videos, found internet footage, and snippets from her own childhood diary. “I feel like I’m a collector and an archivist in a way,” she says. “Collage allows me to organize and layer all my ideas.”
This past spring, Lee mounted an exhibition at Lomex gallery on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, once the studio space of the post-minimal sculptor Eva Hesse. “I wanted to create this dreamy mood like the party sequence in Labyrinth,” she says, referring to Jim Henson’s 1986 cult classic, which somehow managed to incorporate catchy dance numbers, a talking worm, and David Bowie. “I was trying to collage how I was feeling to the space and the context.” To create a celebratory, somewhat surreal atmosphere, Lee brought in some balloons and washed the gallery in pink light. “Lighting is like set design,” she says. “People think it’s so extra, but I’ve always loved to put a cherry on top of things.”
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