our weaknesses, our pride, our idiosyncrasies and on the faith that sustains us.”
– Tom Joyner Foundation
Ever since taking the art world by storm during her first gallery show in 1985 at the age of 50, where her artwork sold out in just four hours, Annie Lee has been a central and celebrated figure in the world of art. Her style was labeled by art commentators as “Black Americana” due to her use of scenes of everyday African American life, the animated emotion of the personalities and two-dimensional figures. Another recognizable and trademark aspect of her art is the fact that her subjects were often faceless. When asked about her “faceless style” Annie Lee noted the following:
1. She prefers to utilize body language and movement and uses this to bring her artwork to life. Annie Lee didn’t want the face of the character to prevent the body language of the subject from telling the story.
2. Faceless characters allow Annie Lee’s customers to mentally project their own faces on the subject of the people in Annie Lee’s paintings.
3. The faceless characters will always be known as an Annie Lee trademark due to her being the first major artist to create and embrace this style. Her goal was to make sure that her artwork was unique and different and by utilizing this style Annie Lee definitely achieved that goal.
Annie Lee has come a long was since she stopped working as the Chief Clerk in the Engineering Department of Northwest Railroad at the age of 51. It was tough for her to make that “leap of faith” and start doing art full time but the fruits of that decision and her labors have been extensive. She has acheived international fame and acclaim because of her magnificent artwork. Annie Lee has become an owner of her own art gallery, Annie Lee and Friends Gallery, and even currently sits on the board of directors for Tom Joyner’s Foundation. Her artwork has also been featured in shows such as “ER”, “A Different World”, “Coming to America”, “227”, Barbershop and “Boomerang”.
This life that Annie Lee currently leads is a long way from her humble beginnings in Gadsen, AL and Chicago, IL as the second child to a single mother. Annie Frances Lee always showed great promise as an artist, evident by the fact that she won her first art competition at the young age of 10. However, for a period time, she didn’t embrace her talent and even turned down a full scholarship to Northwestern University to get married and start a family after graduating from high school.
It wasn’t until much later in life, at the age of 40, that Annie Lee began painting again. After two marriages and two children she started studying art at night and eventually received a masters degree in Interdisciplinary Art from Loyola University. At the age of 50, she had her first gallery show and after the death of her son in 1986 Annie Lee quit her day job and started painting art full time. The rest, as they say, is history.
Let’s all Thank God that she made that decision and didn’t let all of that tremendous artistic talent lie dormant.
Visit our: Annie Lee Art Gallery