Artist's Bio

Altered Books by Jacqueline Rush Lee

Jacqueline Rush Lee defies our expectations of what books can be with fecund meditations on nature and permanence. With a deft hand, Lee explores the material possibilities, drawing parallels between the life-cycles of books and those of humans through forms found in nature
— Curator Beth McLaughlin, Fuller Museum


Jacqueline Rush Lee is a Hawaii-based sculptor recognized for her work with the book form. Lee is interested in the aesthetic of books as cultural objects that come with their own histories of use and meaning.  By using books as her canvas or building block Jacqueline transforms their formal and conceptual arrangement through a variety of practices in which the physicality, and thus the context of the books have been altered. Having long considered the book form’s potential as a vessel for expression and contemplation, her book sculptures eliminate written content to create an experiential reading of a structure made from books. Remaining open to the physical and metaphorical transformations that occur in her working process, Lee’s residual sculptures or installations emerge as a palimpsest – a document that bears traces of the original text within its framework but possesses a new narrative as a visual document of another time.

Originally from Northern Ireland Jacqueline has participated in numerous exhibitions in Hawaii and abroad. Her background in Irish culture, coupled with travel and a studio practice in a remote island location, contribute to a unique world view that has shaped her thinking and making. Hailing from an artistic family she was a natural explorer and observer who made things by hand as young as she could remember. Her Maternal Grandfather was a Figurative Painter and her Father, an Engineer by trade, constructed finely hand-crafted horse gigs as a hobby. While Jacqueline is recognized for her work with the book form she works in other media. Conceptual fine craft aesthetics and ideas inform her works with an emphasis on materiality and meaning; specifically, the literacy of objects and embodied knowledge. Her work often employs external processes that she initiates by hand to create chance occurrences that aim to reveal the poetic or simply a “suchness”.

Jacqueline's artwork is featured in books, magazines, and publications with mentions of her work in the New York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and Courrier International. Highlight exhibitions include a five person exhibition of international artists in Metamorphosis: The Art of Altered Books (Fuller Craft Museum), Odd Volumes: Book Art from the Allan Chasanoff Collection (Yale Art Gallery), The Book Borrowers: Contemporary Artists Transforming the Book (Bellevue Arts Museum) and Unhinged: Book Art on the Cutting Edge (Whatcom Museum). Her work is in private and public collections that include the Honolulu Museum of Art, the Hawaii State Foundation on Culture and the Arts, Art in Public Places and the Allan Chasanoff Book Art Collection, Yale Art Gallery.

Jacqueline has a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction in Ceramics and a Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. While formally trained, much of her work with the book as medium is self-taught. She has participated in Art workshops in Hawaii and on the Mainland U.S as well as having taught a range of art courses and practices for museums and Universities. She is the recipient of a 2019 Ragdale Foundation Fellowship and a 2018 Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellowship to develop installation work with books. In the Fall of 2016 she was Artist-in-Residence at the University of Hawaii developing a site-specific installation WHORL, as well as Artist-in-Residence at the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts, GA, where she worked on site-specific and environmental installations. Jacqueline is currently in search of a site for a large-scale installation that she has been working on.