Lea Basile Lazarus received her BA in Art Education from The College of New Jersey and her MFA, with a concentration in Printmaking, from the School if the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been teaching for 20 years. After teaching art for 16 years in Winnetka District 36, Lea retired from public school education and is currently at Beacon Academy, a Montessori High School in Evanston, teaching IB Visual Arts. Through her years of teaching, Lea has worked with Chicago public schools on collaborative social justice art projects. She has been a recipient of a Teacher Fulbright trip to Japan, spending three weeks abroad learning about Japan’s culture, art, and education system. And through a non-profit organization called Do Your P'Art, Lea was sent to Africa to visit Ghanaian schools and villages. These experiences have affected the images that she has created over the years.
Lea is a working artist making contemporary prints, paper pulp collages, and sculptures. She exhibits her work in the Chicagoland Area. Over the past couple of years, Lea has had one person shows at the Center of Halsted, Chicago, Lill Street Art Center, Chicago, and Curt's Café in Evanston. She has also participated in a two-person art and poetry show at Noyes Cultural Arts Center, Evanston. Lea happily owns and operates a Conrad Printing Press, but a majority of her recent work has been created through using pigmented paper pulp.
I have deeply been affected by the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election. It is unusual for me to be saying this, since I have never been very political. It is clear to me now that it is time to become aware, to understand, and to participate.
I participated in the Women’s March in Chicago this past January. I was taken by the number of women who attended the march in their pussy hats, surrounded by family and friends. The streets were a sea of pink. The crowd was a mix of gender, age, and race. Folks were calm, families were playful and happy, and women stood proud and firm in their beliefs. Sign after sign reflected the opinions and feelings of the crowd. I started taking picture after picture reflecting the words and images that I saw. They were powerful and meaningful to me.
I have spent the last nine months creating a body of work titled "Together We Can Do So Much," which reflects this awakening. Because I loved all the vibrant and boldly designed signs of the march, text has become an integral part of this new work. It weaves in and out of my images, sometimes hardly recognizable, other times up front to be read loud and clear. My figures have stepped off the paper and have placed themselves onto the wall. They are speaking out, representing us all. They stand united and strong, embodying the depth of concern that is being felt around the world. Also integral to this work is the house structure, symbolizing a safe place or an expression of personal identity. These structures can also be identified as people uniting together to become a strong community and a force that is unbreakable.