photo of Shanta Lee

What rests in the dark will see the light: Shanta Lee unpacks the inner self

Kay Bailey


Publication Editor


Shanta Lee calls human nature an obsession, an innate need we have to try and fix or change the world around us. She labels this action as transmutation and uses language like this to try and explain how we can best connect our inner selves with our outer selves. In the Sidore Lecture titled “Internal Alchemy and External Play Birth, the Curiosity Engaged Life: How Self-creation and Inquiry Come Together in Shanta Lee’s World of Images, Words, and Life Practice;” Lee guides us through a roadmap of how to bring the thoughts, feelings, and emotions we experience into our physical lives.

A big aspect Lee focused on in her discussions of her creations was the interpersonal relationship between people, using heavy imagery of bodies as a way to house and hold who we are as a person. In practice, this translates to recognizing the residence that people, places, and moments can take up in us, and knowing that those moments can stick with us. 

“Something takes residence in your body and you don’t know how, where, or when that will show up again.” Our inner feelings and emotions will always find a way to come out and manifest in the physical plane.

The self is something Lee emphasizes as both inner alchemy, as she calls it, and external play, connecting these two components to achieve balance. When you are able to recognize the relationship between your inner thoughts and your outer actions, Lee infers, you will have a better understanding of yourself and of the things you want to bring into the world. For Lee, this looks like being curious and being your own experiment in the form of interactive media art.

On this track to self-understanding, Lee warns against delving too much into the depths of our own minds. “We are a very hungry species, and we’re not very honest about it.” When looking for wisdom and peace, Lee says that these attributes can be well-earned, but costly. Gaining a better understanding of yourself will not be without sacrifices. It’s up to you what you want to put first; yourself, or the world around you.

Lee believes she has found a healthy balance between inner alchemy and external play. She is an accredited poet, with titles “Black Metamorphosis” and “GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA”, and is featured through a wide variety of journals and publications across New England. She works in mediums of writing, filmmaking, performance art, and other mixed media, all displaying the person she has built through her journey of self-discovery.

Lee’s visit was made possible through the Saul O. Sidore Lecture series on “Living Curious.” There are no current upcoming lectures in this series, but you can visit her artist page to learn more about Lee and her work in multidisciplinary art.