Nuni Lee is a visual artist currently living and working in Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating from Cornell University with a BFA in Painting in 2012, she came back to her hometown to begin her MFA Program at Georgia State University. Nuni is a drawing instructor at Georgia State University and a private tutor for secondary school students. She has exhibited her work throughout New York and Georgia.
Her most recent work explores the concept of “cuteness” and what that suggests on different levels. Cute, by definition, refers to something that is sweet, vulnerable, soft, and often weak, thus eliciting protective desires from the protector. However, this power dynamic can quickly shift as the cute “protected” uses its cute aesthetics and soft power to manipulate the “protector.”
The push-and-pull relationship between the motherly “protector” and the cute “protected” is an important idea in the artist's work. The protected needs love and attention from the protector; ironically, the protected takes on a more dominant role in the hierarchical relationship by demanding care. At the same time, the word “cute” suggests that it is always shielded under the umbrella of protection, which means it must remain powerless and vulnerable to be loved. The amount of time and energy that the protector spends on caring for the protected begin to define the protector’s existence, thus co-dependency develops between the two.
The pastel colored, needle felted soft sculpture attachments to the artist's paintings are meant to transform the shape of the congenitally rectangular canvas into a cuter and friendlier form, inviting viewers to come closer to touch the painting. However, the traditional notion of artwork as something to be admired at from a distance may stop the audience from acting on his or her desires, creating a sense of happiness and frustration at the same time. Nuni's work continues to explore this vulnerability of the cuteness in the protector-protected dynamic.