Curator, writer, and contributing researcher Rebecca Catching had the opportunity to sit with Pat Lee, who is one of the first artists in residence at Paper, a unique art residency and co-working space in Shanghai.

China Residencies: How did you hear about the residency?

Pat Lee: One of my best friends from Toronto, Tony Jaw, introduced me to the founders of Paper. I flew up there to meet them and we connected.

CR: Did you apply with a specific project idea in mind, or were you looking for inspiration on the spot?

PL: I was wanted to display my new creative work in Shanghai and Paper was a great fit.

CR: Tell us a bit about the project you worked on while you were there.

PL: The project I focused on is called INTERFERENCE. It's a collection of acrylic paintings that fuses the idea of humans and AI technology. As advanced technology evolves, I ask the question: how will it change our way of living? I ask that because I believe changes will happen dramatically and quickly. I think the general public is not aware of how advanced technology will become. Are humans ready for such drastic change? My work leaves the question open and for the public to answer. 


CR: Did your work or practice change significantly from your time in China?

PL: Sharing my work in China has helped bring it to a much larger audience and it's great to connect with new people. Growth in art takes a very long time.

CR: What opportunities did you have to share your work with the public? Any exhibitions, concerts or workshops?

PL: We had a great turn out at the INTERFERENCE Preview Exhibition at Paper. We created a giant wall mural for Branding Shanghai which is currently located at a great location and we'll be launching apparel, toys and a much larger exhibition of INTERFERENCE early next year. Quite a lot has happened in a very short time frame.

CR: Were there other artists around you? Did collaborations occur?

PL: We plan to do many collaborations in the near future but currently I've been mostly solo in my work. 

CR: Had you been to China before?

PL: Yes. I've been to many places in China but lately I've been spending much of my time in Shanghai. I really love the city; it's vibrant, fun and the community is wonderful. It's fast paced, which I enjoy and as a creative artist there are so many different types of creative projects that can be created and developed there. 

CR: Did you speak any Chinese before coming?

PL: I'm still learning Mandarin. I mostly speak Cantonese.

CR: Are you interested in going back and spending more time in China?

PL: Absolutely!

CR: What are you working on next?

PL: Producing a line of toys, apparel and statues for my next INTERFERENCE exhibit.

CR: Anything else you’d like to add?

PL: I've had over 25 years of professional industry experience. I've always believed in being driven by passion in whatever you are doing. Sometimes, life can take you off course but always believe in your gut feeling of what you want to do with your life. I chose to be an artist because I've always loved to create - whether it's creating toys, paintings, illustrations, etc. I really enjoy challenging myself on how creative I can be. Never lose focus on what you want to do and that passion will drive you towards a successful path as a professional. You'll have obstacles to face, times where you'll want to give up, but keep doing it and don't lose your passion or your focus. Life is short and its important to live life doing what you're passionate about, but most of all, focus. That's it. 

This interview was conducted by Rebecca Catching in November 2017