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New works from E. LEE go up in Chicago

Jreich Jreich
Jreich Jreich
My introduction to art & street art was mostly through album artwork. I was drawn to Futura 2000 (via UNKLE), Steve "Espo" Powers (Tommy Guerro), Paul Insect (DJ Shadow), and Bansky (Blur) before I even knew what street art was. Spray paint is banned in my home town of Chicago, so the internet became my portal to the world as I leaned about amazing artists creating on walls all around the globe. My day job is in music, but I continue to have a strong passion and respect for artists of all mediums.
October 9, 2020
3 min read

We always love checking in with Chicago’s E. LEE. E brings creativity and thoughtfulness to every piece (whether in the street or indoors), and there’s usually more than what meets the eye.

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E. LEE began his street art career in 2015 with a goal to impact lives with art. By taking the viewer into consideration, he orchestrates experiences using trompe l’oeil effects and pop images as symbols. In this series about cultural symbols of value, he replaces common objects with cartoon representations of currency and gold. The depth created with shadows and the fantastic scale creates a sense of awe for the viewer while the simplicity and boldness of the piece sneaks into a complex question of what we value in our culture…and why.

First up is a work entitled “Looming Large”, in the Uptown neighborhood. The works invites the viewer to sneak a peek at a stash of massive gold coins within an otherwise unassuming building

Next up is the complex “Your Life as a Comedy” in the Logan Square neighborhood.

Lee tells Street Art News, “I feel this piece is very important right now. A lot of people are feeling anxious and unsafe in the current environment. A threat from nature in Covid, a threat from society with possible income and housing loss, and a large amount of social unrest on top of everything.”

Lee continues, “This is an optimistic piece. The viewer is the protagonist and it is the story of our lives. It’s a cycle (represented by the cycle of the day) showing the metaphoric hurdles we all must overcome:

The desert: an empty barren place with a lack of nourishment. It is loneliness and a feeling of isolation.
The flood / ocean: turbulent water represents turbulent emotions. It is the opposite of a lack, but rather an overwhelm and possible feeling of drowning.
Anvils floating above us on balloons: This is anxiety… the random occurrence that can fall on our heads out of nowhere (cancer, pandemic, death of a loved one)
A Crack in the Earth: This represents us falling into a hole. A major problem or depression we have to climb out of.
We navigate these obstacles and we get ourselves to the other side. When we do, there is more life (trees and bushes), more balance, and we’re equipped with the tools to build a little more safety for ourselves and the ones we love. The last panel represents us improving our lives, building, and the opportunity to take a breath and rest up… for the cycle and challenge will soon begin again.”
For more info on E. Lee’s works check out worksbyelee.com and the artist’s Instagram @_e.lee_
Have a tip about Chicago street art? Contact @jreich on Instagram


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