Size: 30"W x 30"H x 2"D
Year Created: 2015
Ready to Hang
A figurative painting of model, ,Petuel, against a background of painted mandala-inspired designs and a border of sequins referencing Haitian spiritual and cultural symbols.
Lee Rainboth’s career as an artist began on the farm that he grew up on in northwest Iowa where his father would teach him that even fixing a fence or caring for their herd of cattle required a great amount of creativity as well as a high level of care for one’s craft. He knew since he was a young boy in grade school that he would be an artist when he grew up. He followed this passion through to college where he studied drawing and painting at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. He graduated with a degree in Integrated Studio Arts in 2007. As his interests always lied in the intersections of art and spirituality he also minored in Religious Studies and explored every opportunity possible to merge these two sectors together in his studies and later in his professional work. During his time at Iowa State, Lee had the unique opportunity to spend a semester studying abroad in the country of Mali, West Africa. It was during his practical experience in Mali while learning from a diversely talented group of artists at the renowned cooperative, Soleil D’Afrique, that his perception of what art could mean in terms of community and activism greatly expanded in definition. It was there that he was surrounded by powerful examples of how artists were more than just the creators of products but were indeed the ones looked to as community leaders and ambassadors for social change. He was mentored by a group of artists that in the process of creating inspiring work, also were the defenders of justice in their communities and the challengers of the status quo. This experience of seeing how artists interpreted their art in the context of community in Mali, combined with his education at Iowa State in Ames, laid the foundation for Lee to explore the potential that his own art might hold in terms of community development and cross cultural advocacy. After graduating from Iowa State, Lee spent a little more time traveling before moving to Haiti where he has lived for the last nine years. In Haiti, Lee has worked with a number of organizations, including three of which he co-founded, to expand opportunities through the arts for artists, children, and youth, to become creative leaders within their communities. The organizations that he has co-founded are Living Media International, LaVallee de Demain, and The Mountaintop Baz Foundation. In recent years he has had the chance to refocus on his studio work, creating multi-media pieces, informed by the cultures that he has lived in, inspired by the people that he has lived with, and connected to the spiritual realities that he continues to examine in his own life. His current work questions how culture and spirituality manifest themselves in the lives of everyday people in a way that invites the viewer to consider a shared humanity with the subjects of the work but also want to discover more about the differences that add beauty to our existences. Lee continues to work in Haiti where he owns a home and lives with 7 Haitian roommates, many of whom help him with his art doing tasks such as stretching and priming canvasses and applying the sequined designs to the canvasses. When Lee is stateside, he now splits his time between Marucs, Iowa, where he still maintains a studio on the family farm, and Indianapolis, where he works with an arts organization called Indy Convergence which connects artists across disciplines to push each other creatively, intellectually, and professionally while getting connected to their own communities and their communities to the artists. He is also the Executive Director of the Jacmel Arts Center in Jacmel, Haiti, where he leads programs for over 100 of the region’s most talented visual and performing artists.