Hyunmee Lee was born in Seoul, Korea, where she grew up practicing Western Modern art with experience in Eastern painting.
In1985, Lee graduated Hongik University having majored in painting. At the end of that year, she moved to Australia where she would remain for six years and achieve two post-graduate degrees. She exhibited in her first commercial gallery (Bonython-Meodemore Gallery) in Sydney in 1989, also when work also was published in “Art Four,” a contemporary art book, that year.
After earning a Master’s and MFA at the Sydney College of Arts, University of Sydney, she returned to Korea where she lived for the next seven years. There she taught at Hongik University as a lecturer and exhibited in solo shows in major art galleries and museums.
In 1997, Lee came to America and settled in Utah. In 2001 she joined the faculty of Utah Valley University. She had her first solo show in America, called “Mountain Armatures,” at Orem’s Woodbury Art Museum in 2002. “When Gesture Finds Its Power,” her solo exhibition at the Nora Eccles Harrison Museum in Logan was held in 2005. She showed her large-scale work at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in 2006 in an exhibition titled “Intimacy without Restraint.”
She retired as a fully tenured professor from Utah Valley University in 2009 to more fully concentrate on her art career. She created many series of work over 35 years and was awarded a fellowship for Visual Arts Excellence from the The Utah Division of Arts & Museums in 2015. Lee relocated to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 2016.
“Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism have formed the essential basis of my life and efforts. Each period of work has been an exercise in personal exploration and learning. My work continues to be a preparation for another journey, relating to the inner mind; that is a balance of empowerment and meditation. Through abstract, gestural work, I have explored the depth of myself, and marked the journey into spiritual and cultural dimensions. I am now moving toward a deeper exploration of cultural realities and a place of self. “