The Birger Sandzén Memorial Gallery announced the opening of a retrospective exhibition featuring the art of Lindsborg artist Lee Becker. The show opens Sunday and continues through Dec. 23. An opening reception will be from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday with the artist talking about her work at 3 p.m.
Becker grew up in McPherson, as a spouse and mother through her young adult years. In the early 1970s, she began art studies at Bethany College and received a bachelor's degree in art and art education in 1976. She also completed special studies in sculpture at Bethany and painted in watercolor with Keith Crown, professor emeritus of art at the University of Southern California.
Following her degree completion, Becker began working as a studio artist and teacher. She continues to regularly exhibit regionally, is a seven-time winner in the Kansas Artists Postcard series, and has participated in numerous solo and group shows. She has completed commissions and received honors in juried exhibitions. As a teacher, she has instructed students privately, for arts organizations, and at all levels of formal education for more than 25 years.
In 1999, Becker received an M.F.A. in printmaking from Fort Hays State University. In an effort to broaden her knowledge and experience base, she participated in a group study exchange team to India in 1997 that was sponsored by Rotary International.
In 2007, she again visited India – this time as a Rotary team group leader. Without question, these trips greatly influenced her artwork.
Recently, Becker's art has focused on capturing the presence of rare and endangered animals. In her Rare Forms series, she continues to create life-size portraits of agricultural and exotic animals that are endangered – either because of hunting, environmental issues, or because they have fallen out of favor in an era of mechanized, large-scale food production. The endangered animal series plays to Becker's delight in organic color, form and texture and her intense focus on the personal experience of the animal finds its way onto her canvas. "When I paint," she says, "I consider the sentient being – the presence of these creatures. I want to achieve the feeling I experience when in close proximity to them."
In preparation for her retrospective, Becker reflects on her artistic experiences, "It doesn't seem time yet to be having a retrospective; it has all gone by so fast it seems, and yet not. It has been a journey of surprises, rich experiences, agonies and disappointments. All of these experiences have been rich sources for art making.
"Very early I began to think of myself as someone who would compulsively draw, paint, and make three-dimensional forms. In other words, what everyone calls an artist. Growing up in Kansas exposes one to the land, farms, farm animals, and horses. Additionally, I have studied life drawing whenever models were available and will continue working with the human form as a subject.
Page 2 of 2 - "Drawings are the foundation of all my work. They become fodder for the other media that completes the idea – or often I consider the drawing a completed work itself. Many times the idea suggests the media: whether I should do a painting, print, sculpture, or drawing. The painting may be done in oil, acrylic, watercolor, pastel or egg tempera. At other times the media comes first and dictates the idea.
"It's such a pleasure to experiment with color against color, or color over color, and line over line – value from deep darks to the barest wisp of a shade. Textures, colors, forms and shapes all combine resulting in an image of man or beast, field or mountain, or invented forms and experiments.
"I thank all those family members, friends, teachers –– and strangers –– who have been a part of it all."
The Sandzén Gallery is located at 401 North First Street in Lindsborg. Hours are 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. The Gallery is closed on Mondays. Admission is free, contributions welcomed. Docent tours for groups are available by two-week advance appointment with the Gallery. For more information about Birger Sandzén and the Gallery visit the website www.sandzen.org., telephone (785) 227-2220.