Artist Profile - Marta Lee

“I’m not satisfied with my cat pictures.”
She sits at a table, gazing at three Polaroid pictures. She laughs and glances across the room where an orange, overweight (or maybe just big boned, no one is sure) cat with one ear basks in the sunlight. “Evander,” she calls, “I’m not satisfied with my cat pictures!”

She grabs her Polaroid, which looks more like a giant blue children’s toy than a camera, and creeps over to the window. She spends the next 15 minutes lying on the floor, trying to coax Evander out of his sleepy stupor so she can get the perfect photo.
Needless to say, Marta Lee takes all facets of her artwork pretty seriously. But when your father is UT photography professor Paul Lee, your mother used to teach art classes in your basement and your sister is in grad school for sculpture, it just kind of comes with the territory.
Marta grew up in Pullman, Washington, “the lentil capital of the world.” When she wasn’t busy eating lentil chili and ogling at the city’s giant legume mascot (“He was named Hasty, I think. Hasty the Lentil? Tasty the Lentil? I don't remember now, I might have to research it,” she says), she was being constantly bombarded with different forms of art.
Her dad accepted a job on good ole Rocky Top as director of UT’s art department when she was 10 years old. As if she didn’t already have enough art in her life, being the director’s daughter meant meeting several of UT’s art professors and instructors before she even went to school there. With so many good influences, it’s a wonder that Marta, now a 19-year-old 2D art major, hasn’t already risen to artistic superstardom.
Either way, Marta says that her parents are her go-to when she’s working on a project. “My parents are almost always the first people to give me feedback on new work,” she says. “My mom is a great brainstorming resource, too, when it comes to figuring out the next step.”
Marta says sometimes she will come up with an idea and detailed plan for her pieces, but the majority of the time, she’s a strong believer in letting the art create itself. “I mostly just let the paintings develop on their own as I work on them,” she says. “And then lots of times I'll hang a painting up in my bedroom or house and just live with it for a day or so before I decide what to do to it next.”
She has a little something she calls "Divine Inspiration."
“I just see it more as the inspiration coming out of thin air,” Marta says. “Ideas pop into my head, and I don't always feel responsible for them.”
“My You Slay Me painting is one of the ones I'm the most proud of,” she says. “I was painting my shower curtain, and when I finished, I had leftover paint; and so I just used it to cover the canvas, thinking I was just putting a layer of paint on that I was going to cover up anyways, and then I ended up really liking how it looked, and it was finished, just like that.”
Marta wants to go to graduate school and is excited to see what happens along the way. She hopes to one day do tours showcasing her art, but won’t stand for the run-of-the-mill gallery exhibit.

“I don't just want to give lectures and I don't just want to go and be like, ‘Here's my art, exhibit it!’” she says. “So I would like to do tours where I'd do a painting in front of an audience but I'd let them make decisions for me and I somehow make it more interesting, but I don't know how yet. I was talking with my roommate about it and he said I could dance while I'm painting.”

Yes, she says, you can come.
Marta Lee recently participated in UT’s Student Art Competition. Her artwork can be seen in Ewing Gallery in the Art & Architecture building.

To see more of Marta’s work, visit: