Drawing outside the box: an artist’s guide to life

Connor Keep

By Elliott Nerenberg, Victoria Vidales, Victoria Juan, and Connor Keep

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Few people in modern society know how to stop, take in their surroundings, and learn something from them because of their preoccupation with work and technology. Even fewer people find it necessary to do so, but artist and high school photography teacher Chris Lee, 50, says differently.

“Looking at the world differently can teach us how to look at ourselves differently,” Lee said.

While sketching a school building on Aug. 3 at the Long Beach City College campus, Lee expressed his belief that more people need to think about the world differently, and that this can be achieved through art. He says he believes art is invaluable because it allows human beings to communicate on a spiritual level.

“We express ourselves to discover who we are,” he said.

Lee, who has always had an interest for photography and art, is pursuing a degree in art history. His photography career started in 1990, and he was later offered a job to teach photography at a high school. He is currently taking Prof. Courtney Murphy’s Art 15 class, a requirement for getting an Associate of Art Degree, and transferring to Cal State Long Beach.

When asked what art meant to him, he replied, “Art is an important aspect of human expression. It’s intertwined with human nature.”

One of his long-term goals is to teach art history. He also encourages people to think more deeply and creatively about things they already know and things they have yet to learn. He himself draws inspiration from artists such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Sebastio Salgado and James Nachtwey, a famous photojournalist who also worked to change people’s world perspectives.

Some people have been trying to use art to answer a great question since the dawn of mankind: human existence and spirituality. No definite answer has been found; however, Lee believes the historical ties of art to human culture can help find this answer.

“The very first selfie took place 10,000 years ago in a cave in France,” Lee said. “I like to share that because high school is so test-oriented. Do we learn how to think differently? Do we learn how to see things differently?”

In his eyes, the meaning of art differs from person to person, and if they can discover what it means to them, they can learn so much more about themselves and the world. This is why Lee believes art is vital to understanding the world as a whole.

“Art is taken for granted,” he said.

You can view Lee’s art by visiting his website chrisleephotographic.com.

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