MaryHope Lee

Arizona, USA

Where Did You Sleep Last Night from the "comfort capitalism complicity" series by MaryHope Lee
7.86"x8.66"; hand-cut collage using found images; 2021

Not a Sleepover from the "comfort capitalism complicity" series by MaryHope Lee
6.68"x6.27"; hand-cut collage using found images; 2021

Have You Ever Felt Invisible Before? (Welcome Home)
from the "comfort capitalism complicity" series by MaryHope Lee
8.34"x8.89"; hand-cut collage using found images; 2021

MaryHope Lee is a cultural worker from San Diego, California, residing in Phoenix, Arizona, two cities composed of melting pot populations who are a consistent motivator of her work. Through her use of words, images, beads, and thread, whether she is writing a poem, assembling a collage, stitching a pañuelo, or beading a canvas, Lee’s overarching goal is always “to create images that speak to the guilty bystander in us all and challenge our systemically induced complicity.”

Her series “comfort capitalism complicity” explores the multi-faceted issue of homelessness, focusing in particular on the ease with which the homeless population is marginalized and often ignored in American culture. This deliberate disregard for one of the most vulnerable populations occurs in spite of the research and empirical data showing how more people are at an increased risk for and have a higher likelihood of experiencing homelessness in their lifetime due to the rising cost of living, especially in regards to housing. Using found images to powerfully contrast with those from Phoenix Home & Garden magazines, Lee sharply critiques the role of those who benefit the most from a ruthless, capitalist society, while simultaneously eschewing their responsibility to those who are struggling to have their basic needs met. The various images that Lee uses to represent the homeless population remind the viewer that homelessness does not discriminate by age, gender, or race; although there can be discernible trends, it can affect anyone who is subject to unpredictable, tragic circumstances.

“I set out to create images that are arresting and compelling, aesthetically and emotionally. I want a viewer’s reflexive response to become a reflection, and hopefully provide a moment for the viewer to see one’s own self reflected in the image. I want to arouse the guilty bystander in all of us and make us more aware of, and hopefully shake us out of, our complicity.”

MaryHope Lee would like to thank Ryan Greene and Claudia Nuñez de Ibeta for their encouragement and support. “They are my sine qua non.”