About the Exhibition

Maia Ruth Lee explores the failure of language to express fully and accurately the meaning of an emotion or an experience. Lee relocated to Colorado in spring 2020, and her work reflects on the events of the year and the profundity of change that they have wrought. Paintings, wall-based installations, works on paper, and a video present an acutely tender response to the upheaval and loss of the last year. Creatively prolific, this exhibition comprises entirely new work borne of a central yet impossible pursuit: to lean on language, both written and oral, to capture the artist's personal experiences and also to approximate the experiences of others.

Her turn to asemic writing - text that is visually seen, but which has no context - is in part a recognition of the impossibility of this effort. In doing so, Lee opens language up, disentangles it from meaning, and allows for this orphaned text to be treated as visual object as much a linguistic concept. Embedded in the incoherence of asemic writing is that it simply cannot be reduced or codified; much like the emotional range experienced by many over the past year,  neither can we. Ultimately, Lee's project explores nor just the stubbornness of text to be read, but also the illegibility of our experiences to be decoded as language.

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See the Exhibition

Gif of Maia Ruth Lee exhibition The Language Of Grief


Ellen Bruss Senior Curator Miranda Lash discusses Maia Ruth Lee's exhibition in just 90 seconds.

Artist Maia Ruth Lee discusses the themes of her exhibition, the inadequacy of language to describe our present moment, her choice of accessible and unconventional materials, and the home video featured in her gallery.


Maia Ruth Lee is an artist and educator born in 1983 in Busan, South Korea. She received her BFA from Hong Kong Ik University, Seoul, Korea and attended Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Vancouver, Canada. She has been the subject of solo exhibitions at Eli Ping Frances, New York and Jack Hanley Gallery, New York. Her works have been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; CANADA gallery, New York; Studio Museum 127, New York; Salon 94, New York; Roberts & Tilton Gallery, Los Angeles; and Parisian Laundry Gallery, Montreal. Lee was director of Wide Rainbow, a non-profit after-school art program from 2016 to 2020. She lives and works in Salida, Colorado.