Lee Nowell-Wilson (b. Easton, MD 1989) is a figurative artist who builds autobiographical narratives that investigate the emotional and ambivalent undertones within birth, domestic labor and human relationship. Through using the female body and maternal subject, Nowell-Wilson illuminates a detail of life that is extremely personal, yet universal. She predominantly executes this in an ironic way by using mundane objects (blankets, dishes, pillows, toys) to express complex human tendencies and emotions. Those ordinary household items create forms that become a secondary subject in-and-of themselves and interact with Nowell-Wilson’s figures on an interpersonal level. A tight turtleneck becomes a close partner in conversation. The womb of blankets upon one’s head becomes the hand that steals identity, while simultaneously creating a self-birthing place and points to a labor worth crowning.
Nowell-Wilson’s work investigates that tipping point — the line where the maternalistic state of being tips from something sensitive to aggressive, from a tearing tension to close connection — and she invites her viewer to witness that vulnerable walk. While combining high realism, abstract marks and empty contours, Nowell-Wilson speaks metaphorically to elements of weight, physicality, mental health and veneration — all in the effort to humorously cry about the growing pains of care-giving while also examining it as something holy; questioning, as well, maternal subjectivity.