Mountainfilm: Emilie Lee, Artist, Activist

Over Mountainfilm weekend, find Emilie at the Telluride Art District’s Stronghouse Studios & Gallery, where she will be for sure during Gallery Walk, Friday, May 22, Passes and tickets for Mountainfilm here.

Full schedule for Gallery Walk here.

Emilie Lee, artist-in-residence, Telluride Mountainfilm

Emilie Lee, artist-in-residence, Telluride Mountainfilm

A group of artists known collectively as “The Hudson River School,” painted roughly from 1830 to the late 1860s, when many artists all over the world and certainly across the pond were working off similar scripts: God is the Ultimate Creator and artists, his priests, charged with using their pulpit to reveal the power and awe of His Creation. For talents such as Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Frederic Edwin Church and Albert Bierstadt the mission was to elevate everyday sights and events to the level of the sublime to reveal not just the surface wonder of a place, but also to capture the magic that informs the details which they rendered so meticulously, so miraculously.

But that was then, this is now.

Artist (adventure athlete and climber) Emilie Lee takes up the banner of the Hudson River School – minus the religious undertones, a major factor in the 19th century. Her affinity for this particular group of painters has everything to do with who the men were and their methods: the Hudson River fraternity were explorers, uniformly inspired by wilderness areas. They were also blessed with extravagant gifts for exposing their obsession with the natural world.

Just like Emilie, who puts her own unique spin on the subject.

Landscape, Emilie Lee

Landscape, Emilie Lee

Emile Lee is a special guest and artist-in-residence at Telluride Mountainfilm 2015, Friday, May 22, opening with a symposium focusing on Afghanistan followed by a Gallery Walk and ending Monday, May 25. with a picnic in Town Park. In between, a gathering of the tribe at films, breakfast talks, lectures, book signings, with one central purpose in mind: to celebrate indomitable spirits and transform awareness into action.

Actions such as Emile’s.

This spring, working in northeastern Montana with a group of volunteer researchers collectively known as the American Prairie Reserve to create the largest protected wildlife area in the continental U.S., Emilie paid passionate and scrupulous attention to her rich surroundings, expressing her findings in her newest body of landscape paintings.

“As a senior fellow at the Hudson River Fellowship, I’ve been studying the Hudson River School artists and how they made their massive landscape paintings. When I learned of the APR and it’s mission, I saw an opportunity to reexamine the subject of wilderness conservation in the context of our time using a painting approach inspired by this earlier generation of artists,” she explained in a recent article she penned for her alma mater, adding: I started to notice which scenes really light up my imagination as well. Wide-open vistas and big skies feel expansive and boundless. Tangled sagebrush and greasewood in the foreground allude to the wildness of this place. And then, of course, there’s the abstract simplicity of sky versus earth.”

Portrait, Mountainfilm guest, Emile Lee

Portrait, Mountainfilm guest, Emile Lee

At Mountainfilm, Emilie will not only display her landscapes, but also the portraits of other Mountainfilm contributors, who all agreed to sit for three hours while she set about capturing the individual behind the face.

More about Emilie Lee:

Vermont-born Emilie Lee is a painter based in New York City. After earning a degree in illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design, she spent four years as a nomadic rock climber, exploring the wilderness areas of the American West. During this time, her writing, artwork and animation were featured in outdoor adventure publications including Alpinist Magazine, the Patagonia catalog and Rock and Ice. In 2008 she moved to New York to spend four years studying with renowned painter and educator, Jacob Collins. She became a senior fellow at the Hudson River Fellowship and spent five summers at this residency for landscape painters. Today, Lee is a principal artist and instructor at the Grand Central Atelier in New York City. As a landscape painter she has been featured in “The New York Times, “The Wall Street Journal,” and “New Hampshire Public Radio.”

To learn still more about Emilie and her projects in her own words, listen to our chat.

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