(American, b. 1963)
As a child growing up in Southern California in the early 1970s, Lorra Lee Rose devoted countless hours to making things-costumes, beaded work, macramé. Though perhaps influenced by her time and place in her initial selection of materials and forms, from an early age she applied herself to her projects with a passion and focus that brought her creations far beyond the typical. By her early twenties she was making eye-catching beaded earrings that people were buying enthusiastically, and she determined that she would make her livelihood as an artist.
It was a chance encounter that brought Lorra Lee toward her life's work with feathers: in 1986, in her early twenties, she went into a San Francisco bead shop to stock up on seed beads. Next door was a costume shop, which she couldn't resist exploring. Within she was delighted to find some imported masks, and even more delighted to find that the store was selling mask blanks and dyed feathers. Inspired, she purchased a few of each.
Meanwhile, preparing for an art show to sell her beaded earrings, she was asked to do a photo session for the local paper. Putting the cart before the horse, she informed the promoters that she was also making masks-though she had yet to actually make any. The promoters were excited about this prospect, so with only a few days to prepare for the article, she came up with the design in her dreams. Photos of the first three masks she ever made, using dyed feathers, were published in two local newspapers.
With that initial success, she began collecting feathers and improving her techniques, selling her work at art shows and galleries; in fact her first sale of masks-adorned with natural feathers-was to that original costume shop in San Francisco. As she learned more about the range, vibrancy, and subtlety of natural feathers, she quickly dropped using dyed feathers altogether. Using only top-quality, legally sourced feathers of varieties that most people don't see every day, she has since developed a major collection of her chosen material.
Over the years, Lorra Lee has developed her striking and vivid designs in an intuitive process of direct observation and precise application-through working with the feathers, always intrigued by their patterns, shapes, and colors, allowing their natural beauty to inform her design choices in intense sessions of spontaneous creativity. She works deliberately and consciously, still motivated by the same joy of self-expression that she encountered somewhat naively in her youth, tempered by the thousands of hours of disciplined experience that are necessary for artistic mastery.
In order to provide a stable supply of her medium-collecting feathers for a single large mask or human figure can take as much as ten years-Lorra Lee has cultivated a network of pet owners and aviaries who gather the molted, natural-color feathers for her purchase. Birds shed a small handful of feathers per season, seriously restricting the supply and thus requiring years of patience and preparation. Before they can be used, the feathers must be cleaned, separated, cleaned again, and stored while waiting to gather a significant enough selection to use for a piece. This elaborate and time-consuming process gives Lorra Lee a rare intimacy with her materials, contributing to the immediacy and vigor of her work.
Her sense of respect for the birds that provide her their molted feathers leads Lorra Lee to honor them in turn, by using their precious gift to create beautiful work that is worthy of their natural beauty.
The recipient of numerous awards, private commissions, showings at art festivals, and exhibits in museums, Lorra Lee has maintained a flourishing career as a prolific artist.
Feathers are magical to me. The joy of self-expression in working with them is like nothing else I've encountered, and to be able to share that joy with an audience, to see people responding to my work, is a soul-opening experience, one that continues to propel my artistic path in a lifelong dedication to my art.
For full resume, view PDF below
2014-2016 Coda Gallery, Palm Desert, CA
2012-2013 Adagio Gallery, Palm Desert, CA
2010 Solo show - Bone Room, Berkeley, CA
1999 Landmark Gallery, Cairns, Australia
1999 Hale Mana, Koloa, Kauai, HI
2006 The Four Elements,The Hennessy Collection
1997 Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery, Woodinville, WA
1993-1995 "Way of the Doll" Berkeley and San Francisco, CA
1990 Fabrile Gallery, "Hunt of the Rising Sun" Chicago, IL
1989 Museum of the Ulfert Buchholz International Cocche Collections, Bavaria, Germany
2014 La Quinta Art Festival, Best in Category, La Quinta, CA
2011 La Quinta Art Festival, Honorable Mention, La Quinta, CA
2006-2007 Indian Wells Art Festival, First Place, Indian Wells, CA
2000 La Quinta Art Festival, Award of Excellence, cash award, La Quinta, CA
1998 Lewis-Clark Center for the Arts, People's Choice Award, Lewiston, ID
2013 Ledger Dispatch
2012 Sierra Lonestar
1997 Ledger Dispatch, "Artists Finds Niche with Feathered Masks."
1995 Way of the Doll, Cassandra Light, Chronicle Books
1989 The Herald, "Artist Feather Masks Are a Hit" M. Campbell