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Lily Lee

Photo of Lily LeeAssociate Professor, Sculpture

MFA University of Oregon
BA & BFA University of Washington cum laude

In Lily Lee’s current body of work The Great Basin Murders she handweaves shrouds to commemorate victims of unsolved homicides. The Great Basin Murders are a loose grouping of cases spanning the 1970’s to 1990’s in which women were found killed and dumped along highways throughout the Mountain West, most of which are still unsolved today. Lee develops original patterns using data from each case including height, weight and age estimates as well as the date and GPS coordinates of when and where each victim was located. The density of the weaving communicates the postmortem interval. While this work is an attempt to broach the anonymity of unidentified homicide victims with devotional craft, the resulting woven panels remain visually austere illustrating the absence of information that characterizes many cold cases. Through weaving these shrouds Lee seeks to give the victims the respect they were not previously afforded.

Lee collaborates with photographer Carrie Quinney who documents the woven shrouds at the sites where each victim was found, stylistically bridging crime scene documentation and landscape photography. These images position the shrouds as bodies, contextualizing the series in art historical movements considering violence against women from Renaissance and Baroque paintings to contemporary participatory art addressing social issues, all against the backdrop of the ever foreboding, mysterious and beautiful Western landscape.

The Great Basin Murders is supported by grant funding from the Alexa Rose Foundation, the Idaho Commission on the Arts and the Boise State University College of Arts and Sciences.
The Great Basin Murders exhibition schedule:
2019 Nightingale Gallery, Eastern Oregon University, La Grande, OR
2020 Northeastern Nevada Museum, Elko, NV
2021 Wilbur D. May Museum, Reno, NV

The Great Basin Murders press:
Taylor, Jessica. “Boise State associate professor uses art to draw attention to unidentified victims.KIVI-TV Idaho News Channel 6, November 17, 2020.
Wampler, Molly. “Idaho Artist Memorializes Missing Women Found Roadside In New Art ExhibitIdaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio, NPR 91.5 FM Boise, ID, November 17, 2020.
Delaney, Cynthia. “Artist Memorializes Elko County Jane DoesElko Daily Free Press, October 27, 2020.
Delaney, Cynthia. “Museum hosts exhibit related to Elko County murdersElko Daily Free Press, August 20, 2020.
Webb, Anna. “BSU Art Professor Lily Lee Weaves Shrouds for the Forgotten.Idaho Press Tribune, 9 June 2019.
Webb, Anna, “Mud Flaps and Burial Shrouds: Weaving an Identity for the West” Explore Magazine: Spring 2019, Cover Story. Print.

Lily Lee was born and raised in Pullman, Washington. Her work has been exhibited in the Ukraine, Portugal, Hungary, Greece, Italy, and throughout the United States. She is a member of the Handweavers Guild of the Boise Valley and volunteers with Doe Network, an organization that assists law enforcement with cold cases.


Visit Lily Lee’s website

Selected Exhibitions:

  • Commuter Biennial, Site Specific Projects throughout Miami-Dade County, FL 2019
  • His-ter’-ee-uh ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL 2019
  • 4th Biennial Fiber Options Circle Gallery, Maryland Federation of Art, Annapolis, MD 2018
  • Hand in Hand: Craft and New Technologies, Crooked Tree Arts Center, Petoskey & Traverse City, MI 2018
  • Idaho Triennial, Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID 2017 & 2020
  • New Fibers, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI 2017
  • Crafting Community, Surface Design Association Exhibition in Print 2016
  • Messing with Yarn, Textile Arts Factory, Thessaloniki, Greece 2016
  • Northwest Art Now, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA 2016
  • Exercising Authority –Racial Minorities & the American Legal System, Wiseman Gallery, Grants Pass, OR 2015
  • Contextile 2014: Contemporary Textile Art Biennial, Guimarães, Portugal
  • Post-Racial U.S, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM 2014