By Jackie Carman, Office of Marketing and Communications Intern

Yasmin Lee ’23, a studio art major from Columbia, South Carolina, has received two awards through the Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg, and she hopes to use the recognition to better connect the college’s relatively new studio art program with the larger Spartanburg community.

In May, Lee received the Judy and Brant Bynum Fine Art Award for her digital collage “Solitude.” The award is given to rising juniors majoring in fine art at Spartanburg’s colleges and universities. Last month, she was named Best Emerging Artist by the Artists’ Guild of Spartanburg.

“We need to build a better sense of community, and winning this award could be a way for Wofford to build a stronger relationship with the Artists’ Guild,” says Lee of receiving the Best Emerging Artist award. Studio art became a major at Wofford during the 2020-21 academic year.

“Solitude” allowed her to make a statement as an artist. The work is influenced by the Renaissance era and creates a dreamlike state for viewers.

“I start off with what I want to see and after that I build a story,” Lee says.

“Solitude” is a tale of finding comfort in her own company and enjoying the journey of learning herself. She drew inspiration from music artist Kali Uchis and her sophomore album titled “Isolation.” This story is represented through significant symbols within the piece.

“There are a bunch of hands willing to light this lady’s cigarette, but she is in her own tub in her own world and is lighting her own … knowing there are others around her, she still chooses herself,” Lee says.

With the competing juxtaposition of Renaissance, modernist and spiritual influences, along with a story through still images that Lee inserts herself in, she makes an illusory experience for the viewer.

Lee sees her recent recognition as a testament to her identity on Wofford’s campus.

“I am proud to have this award as a representation of Black artists at Wofford,” Lee says.

Through her experience and artwork, she can show the diversity of Black creativity and expression on campus. She’s developing connections with other artists in the area while expanding her artistic capabilities. She’s also diving deeper into what art means to her.

The Bynum award provided funding to support her artwork, and she’s using it to explore film and animation. Lee is spending the summer doing collaborative research with Jessica Scott-Felder, an assistant professor of studio art, that will contribute to a monument dedicated to Spartanburg’s Black culture.

Follow Lee and her work on Instagram at @grooviest.master.