Skip to main content

Kansas exhibition features work of Lily Lee

Lily Lee's work, a woven shroud in a desert landscape.
A Shroud for Ermelinda Garza by Lily Lee, photo by Carrie Quinney. Authorities found Garza’s body south of St. George, Utah in 1991. Her murder is unsolved.

An exhibition at the KCKCC Gallery at Kansas City Kansas Community College includes two works by Lily Lee. The pieces are part of Lee’s ongoing Great Basin Murders series. In this series, Lee uses numerical and other data from murder scenes, including GPS coordinates, victims’ measurements, estimated ages and more, to generate weaving patterns. From these patterns, Lee creates memorial shrouds specific to each victim. Recently, Lee partnered with photographer and Boise State graduate Carrie Quinney to photograph Lee’s shrouds placed at crime scenes, or in landscapes reminiscent of the places where victims lay.

Memorial shroud
A Shroud for Ermelinda Garza by Lily Lee.

The exhibition, BECOMING: Womyn Bodies of Trauma, Displacement and Dissidence, will continue through March 12. Karlota I. Contreras-Koterba, director of the Slocumb Galleries at East Tennessee State University, curated the exhibition.

The Shroud of I-90 Jane Doe by Lily Lee, photo by Carrie Quinney. Authorities found Jane Doe in 1992 in a ditch along I-90 near Sheridan, Wyoming. She was about 10 weeks pregnant when she died. In May 2020, Clark Perry Baldwin, a truck driver from Iowa was arrested for the deaths of I-90 Jane Doe and Bitter Creek Betty (another victim memorialized by Lee) based on DNA evidence found on both victims.
memorial shroud
The Shroud of I-90 Jane Doe by Lily Lee.

Jose Ardivilla, a Fulbright scholar at Texas Tech University wrote the essay, Monuments to Trauma, for the exhibition catalogue. About Lee’s work Ardvilla wrote: “Trauma is a reshaping. Photography as documentation of violence is also used by Lily Lee, but for her it is a double reconstruction. Lee reconstructs scenes of crimes against artists with fiber installation. To compound that reconstruction, she takes photos of her reclaiming of such spaces as an indictment against the many unresolved cases at these Midwest water basins. These photographs are a reshaping of the last moments of these artists which goes beyond a mere capturing by police photography. These are hauntings of a blighted landscape that is watered by blood of artists.”