Blake Wood
Publish Date

The University of Illinois Springfield Visual Arts Gallery is pleased to present “A tax on a bag and other landscapes,” a solo exhibition presenting new painting and sculpture works by Chicago-based artist Frances Lee. Transforming the UIS Visual Arts Gallery with an installation of sculptural paper objects and intimate paintings of the urban landscape, the exhibition considers contemporary questions of consumption and material politics.

The exhibition will open on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, and will run through Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023. A reception will be held from 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, 2023, at the gallery.

“A tax on a bag and other landscapes” is presented in partnership with ACRE, an artist-run non-profit based in Chicago that is devoted to providing resources to emerging artists and nurturing a diverse community of cultural producers. ACRE’s programs support this generative community with materials, equipment, expertise and opportunities to exhibit and share work.

In conjunction with this exhibit, the UIS Visual Arts Gallery will host a remote artist talk presented by Frances Lee at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 9. This event is open to the public. Participants can join via Zoom.

A series of arrangements and compressions of brown paper bags populates the gallery’s floor. In both singularity and accumulation, Lee investigates the material weight, volume, surface area and structure of these ubiquitous objects to look at how we understand abstract numerical relationships like quantity. Meanwhile, drawing on the artist’s interest in painting as a method of symbolic and diagrammatic thought, the painted compositions in the show use contrasting color relationships and investigations of point of view to suspend moral tensions observed in the artist’s everyday encounters. Through imagery like trash thrown out the window of a car, a monument’s point of view and a named donation for a private healthcare clinic, the paintings work with the paper objects to create visual vignettes that confront the viewer with the question of how politics is imaged.

A keen observer of the visual world and social dynamics, Frances Lee uses the methods of painting, sculpture and writing to create diagrammatic images that investigate the material and symbolic relationships between the depicted forms of everyday encounters.

Originally from Oakland, California, Lee lives and works in Chicago. She received a bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and a master’s degree in fine arts from the University of Chicago. Lee is currently a lecturer at the University of Chicago, teaching for the Department of Visual Arts at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In 2018, her work was selected for Ground Floor, a biennial exhibition of emerging Chicago artists at the Hyde Park Art Center. She has also participated in several residencies and programs including the Center Program at HPAC, ACRE and the Vermont Studio Center. 

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

The UIS Visual Arts Gallery is centrally located on the UIS campus in the Health and Science Building, room 201 (HSB 201). Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

For more information on exhibition programming, please visit the UIS Visual Arts Gallery website. Questions may be directed to the gallery at 217-206-6506 or

News Categories