Candice Raquel Lee was born in 1972 in the city of New York in the United States and later emigrated to Canada. She studied a BFA in creative writing at the City University of New York and currently lives near Guelph, Ontario.
"I still remember the first time I smelled real modeling clay. I was in first grade and a local artist who had been invited to visit my class handed each of us a bit of the grey stuff to work with. The moment I handled it and breathed its earthy smell, it felt natural and familiar, like something from another life. Then and there at the age of six, my love affair with the medium of sculpture began."
"During my childhood, my mother indulged my urge to sculpt with a set of rudimentary pottery tools, a four-pound bag of red non-firing clay each year, and some excellent anatomy books, hoping that a familiarity with the human form would catalyze a desire for a medical career. During my teen years, I continued to teach myself, refining my art and developing my skill, secretly sculpting figures in clay that were small enough to hide from my mother who urged me ever more insistently away from art and toward science. However, as I suffered from the chronic asthma and hypoglycemia that nearly took my life on several occasions, my mind turned inward away from the physical world to the realms of my imagination, which only fed my art."
"After regaining my health, achieving a BFA in creative writing, and undertaking a few years of teaching, I ultimately decided to follow my true joy and become a professional sculptor. I settled on ten rural acres with my husband, where I designed my dream house and studio in the countryside a few hours drive from all the major cities of southern Ontario. I never did enter the medical field, but realistic figurative sculpture in the classical tradition has been a constant in my life. Now I offer to share my work with you."
"For me, sculpture is all about MYTH, MEANING and MOVEMENT. Combining the great cross-cultural tales and themes of humanity with the technical skill of the sculptural masters, my work aims to capture the defining moment when timeless storytelling, profound significance, and realistic bodily movement intersect."
"MYTHS are the archetypal tales of human existence that continue to resound today, eternal stories of love, sex, birth, and death I want to tell in the medium of bronze sculptures with their own enduring value. In our contemporary society, there is nothing eternal-things are temporary, disposable and meaningless, everything comes and goes in a flash. At a time when knowledge of our mythic past is alarmingly low, we have forgotten our stories and our heroism, so I desire to present new and different visual reimaginings of the myths that remind us of who we are."
"Something is also always happening in my pieces. My background as a writer and voracious reader of great literature compels me to marry narrative and MEANING with three-dimensional art. It isn't enough for me to call a couple "Adam and Eve" or a bent-over figure "Arachne" unless there is something about the couple that communicates their narrative identity, something about the woman that says who she is. My aim in sculpting is thus never just to duplicate the human body or show that I understand anatomy: I aim to capture a critical transformative moment that distils the essence of a story, a photographic moment that is eye-catching and arresting, disturbing, memorable, and above all beautiful, as when Eve emerges from Adam, when Arachne is changed into a spider, when a mermaid washes up on shore."
"Though my figures are highly accurate from an anatomical standpoint, their bodies' main purpose is to speak their meaning through MOVEMENT. There are many ways of communicating: through words, symbols, colors; for me, body language is the most primal and honest means of communication, the moving nude body even more so. Thus, my figures are never static and never replicate only the artificial pose of a model--their bodies are always the active vehicle for an idea. My sculpted people are doing something real, things human bodies naturally do, things that tell their stories."
"I relish the challenge of intricate double figures precisely because physical contact expresses bodily communication even more vividly through multiple points of complex and subtle movement. Adam doesn't just stand beside Eve, her muscles push against his, resisting; limbs entwine in a geometry of motion. True interaction is visible, exposing narrative relations."
"The final component of movement is the emotional content in my sculpture. Arachne's suffering, Eve's utter serenity or her terror at awakening are elements that move the viewer."
"Since the earliest civilizations, sculpture has been something magical and dangerous, depicting the gods and monsters that embody all we reverence and fear. For me, sculpting still retains this timeless mythic power. It remains an alchemical process through which a block of clay appears to move, communicates its meaning, and comes to life."
"When I conceive an idea for a sculpture—something that can happen at any time, but most often when I first awaken—I develop a clay model from my mind and sometimes from preliminary sketches; no living model is used. I prefer the ancient medium of natural water-based or pottery clay because I have an intimately awareness of the properties I have known since childhood. I also find it to be a very fluid and organic material, one that connects me to the earth, and one that seems truly alive: after all, many world myths speak of the first human beings as beings made from clay. This fluidity also suits my method of creation: since I work feverishly once I conceive an idea, water-based clay enables me to rapidly form figures, unlike modern oil-based formulations which are firmer and slow to work. From a purely practical perspective, though the colour of the model ultimately doesn’t matter, I find red clay shows detailing better to my eye and results in models that simply look darn good."
"I work on this original clay model for a number of weeks, adding more and more detail entirely from my imagination, only employing the use of a human model to check specifics of anatomy. When I am satisfied that the original is complete, a silicon rubber or polyurethane mold is made of my work. Because of the movement and complex interaction between figures, these molds are often quite complex to make in their own right. At the foundry, melted wax is poured into the mold and I approve the wax cast, ensuring that the fine details of the original are preserved and signing each piece. The wax is then is repeatedly dipped in a ceramic and sand slurry over many hours to make what is called an investment mold; this is heated, melting the wax within and preparing the mold to receive the final molten bronze that is poured at 1100 degrees C. When the bronze cast is completed, any necessary welds are made and a patina—the chemical finish of the piece—is applied in the colour of my choice, giving the bronze its final appearance. Each of my unique pieces is produced in limited numbered editions of only eight , along with four artist’s proofs. From start to finish, this intensive process can take anywhere from eleven to sixteen weeks for a single sculpture."
If you need more info about Candice Raquel Lee, please contact the curator or visit www.candiceraquel.com.