FAN MAIL: Lee Gainer

DailyServing.com selects two notable artists each month from the submissions we receive to be featured in our series, Fan Mail. For a chance to have your work appear below, with an article written by one of the DailyServing contributors, please submit a link to your website to info@dailyserving.com, subject: Fan Mail. You could be the next artist in the series! (We will try to contact chosen artists prior to publication, but please be sure to check the site everyday.)

Lee Gainer, "Cassandra" from Workin' Hard

Lee Gainer utilizes the time-honored representation of the dedicated employee, phone-to-ear, as the basis of her new collection. Backgrounds vary, depending on the nature of the organization and the duties of the associate. This snapshot, ubiquitous to the point of being absurd, suggests that a corporation places high value on customer service, and provides access to courteous, efficient employees with pleasant speaking voices and problem solving skills. This image abounded in nearly every industry during the second half of the twentieth century, and has become endearingly archaic. (Note: Coiled phone cord of land line.)

For her most recent body of work, Workin’ Hard, Lee Gainer culls photographs from various business websites and literature, printing the selected imagery with her HP Z2100 printer on 8″ x 10″ satin paper. She then alters the appropriated image with gesso and several layers of acrylic, carefully isolating the hand of the subject that holds the receiver. The artist’s modification of the casual office portrait draws attention to the prolific over-use of this image, challenging its validity as a marker of the white-collar system. Gainer’s socio-cultural observations “invite the viewer to consider the cultural expectations of social status, gender roles, age, race, morality, tradition, and sexuality,” as stated on her website. Each portrait in Workin’ Hard is given a first name as a title, subtly undermining the corporate pretense of “personal” service. The faces of the subjects are obscured.

Lee Gainer, "Jr." from Workin' Hard

Gainer’s past projects include Two Month’s Salary, a series which addresses the widely held wedding industry belief that a woman’s engagement ring should be worth approximately two months of the purchaser’s salary. Using this industry equation and the most recent salary data gathered from the U.S. Department of Labor and Payscale.com, Gainer presents twenty prints, each print representing a specific occupation (i.e. Radiation Therapist, Funeral Director, Patrol Officer) and some suitable ring choices. The occupation titles are listed in elegant script below nine engagement rings. View the series here.

Gainer’s work, simple in aesthetic and execution, prompts the viewer to decode visual data and reassess promotional images encountered in everyday life. The artist lives and works in Washington, DC and is currently a resident artist at the Arlington Arts Center in Arlington, VA. Her work has been featured in The American Prospect, The New York Times, and The Exposure Project.

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