Oranje profile: Nancy Lee

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Growing up in the small town of Georgetown, Ill., Nancy Lee's interest in art was borne out of a sensitivity to the little things - "pebbles, leaves, twigs, and buds, from which I created my tiny fantasy world," she writes in an artist's statement. Lee, an Indianapolis-based metalsmith, has maintained this interest into her adult years, fabricating jewelry, small sculptures and other objects using silver, copper, found items and natural materials.

"I found out that I see things other people don't," Lee explained while standing in her workspace at wUG LAKU'S STUDIO & gARAGE. "I see images all the time, and being able to get those images out and reinterpret them in metal helps the fantasy worlds come out."

Before pursuing her art full time, Lee was project manager for the expansion of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. She was introduced to metalsmithing as a student at the Indianapolis Art Center, where she recently began teaching. She also studied at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, where she was a studio assistant last spring.

Her copper sculpture, "Pod," was awarded a first-place ribbon at the Indiana State Fair. Lee's designs are well-crafted, confident, eloquent and often playful, employing both minimalist forms and variable lines.

Lee auspiciously met her partner Wug Laku through Elegant Funk, a show organized by Smaller Indiana artists. During that time, a 40-foot oak fell on Lee's home studio, where "Pod" sat half-finished and unscathed on her workbench. Laku invited Lee to utilize workspace next to his studio, and she's remained there since.

Lee participated in Oranje 2007, and will repeat her popular jewelry making activity where participants may bend and forge a copper bracelet affordably for ten dollars. She also will exhibit and sell her work, including jewelry designs that consider the body as an architectural canvas. Lee wants others to experience and appreciate the craft behind the art.

"Everything informs design...things you feel, things you see... I am always looking for the next possibility," she states. "Sometimes as a design begins to be fabricated in my hands, I follow the path... and it (the work) informs itself as to what it wants to be."

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