Near Home Stretch

I have been cutting the first set of three paper cutouts from the new “Chain Link Fence” series. Finally, tonight I feel it’s close to the home stretch.

The butterflies take a long time to make. But they are worth it.

Butterflies in progress

Cutout butterflies in progress


New Work “Falling Water” to Debut in “Paper”

“Falling Water” is a new paper cutout I just completed. It is the first piece I do not use frame and it hangs like a curtain off the wall to cast a shadow.

It is a relatively large piece in 27.5×50 inches. The piece combines two of my signature motifs – moving water and the chain link fence.

I am very happy with how it turns out.

“Falling Water” will debut in “Paper,” a group exhibition in Pittsburgh’s historic North Side at Artist Image Resource. The exhibition opens on April 2 and continues thru May 23.

Falling Water

Falling Water, rice paper cutout on silk, 27.5x50," 2010

“In the Frame” video and introduction by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“In the Frame: Artists in Their Own Words”: Bovey Lee’s skill and patience are perfect for paper-cutting art

written by Mary Thomas, art critic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 23, 2010

It is a well-written, concise summary of my current work and career thus far.

Hanging Gown, Rice paper cutout, 2006

"Hanging Gown," rice paper cutout, 13.5x6.75," 2006

“In the Frame” – Artist Bovey Lee, video by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 24, 2010

The video focuses on my early art training and influences in Hong Kong, where I was born and raised, and its impact on my current work as a cut paper artist.

Video length: 5 minute 57 seconds


"Tsunami-Enmeshed" (detail), rice paper cutout, 36.5x27.5," 2008

My Influences: Who, Where, What


Paper cutout of my parent's wedding picture, 2006


  1. My father who introduces me to art, music, and books
  2. My mother who inspired many of my works
  3. My grade school teacher Mr. Ng who taught me Chinese calligraphy when I was 10
  4. The Chinese folk artists of paper cutting, both traditional and contemporary
  5. The group of Swiss paper cutting artists I met in 2008


  1. Hong Kong as a people, culture, and place
  2. The two-month trip to Europe I took when I was twenty
  3. The relationship among man, land, and animals in Inner Mongolia as I witnessed in 1988
  4. America as a people, culture, and place


  1. Politics
  2. Current affairs, headlines, and the media
  3. Familial and cultural history
  4. Patterns in the natural and man-made worlds

The Oldest Chinese Papercut in Existence

Earliest Chinese Papercut

Earliest Chinese papercut in existence

Chinese paper cutting is an ancient folk art that has been around for thousands of years. Seen here is one of the five oldest paper cutouts discovered in a Xinjiang archeology site (where is Xinjiang?). It is dated back to the Southern and Northern dynasties (486-581).

I am amazed by the beauty of the geometric, symmetrical, and complex design in this very early paper cutout. The tool used to make it appears to be capable of fairly detail cutting, such as the teeth on the outer edge. And folding also seems clearly utilized to create the pattern.

Source: Berliner, Nancy Zheng. Chinese Folk Art, Canada: Little, Brown and Company, 1986.

20 Reasons Why I Love Cutting Paper

  1. The sensation when the tip of the razor sharp X-acto knife blade touches the soft rice paperpieces of paper on carpet
  2. The gratification it brings when a shape is cutout, no matter how tiny it is
  3. The pride it gives me when I cut a perfectly straight line or circle free hand
  4. The unstoppable, addictive nature of the craft
  5. The stillness
  6. The total concentration it demands
  7. The pain I feel in my body after a long day of cutting
  8. How alive I feel
  9. The adrenaline rush it gives me when I am about to complete a piece
  10. The vulnerability of the paper with incalculable holes in it
  11. How light I breathe and delicate I move when handling the paper cutout
  12. The happiness it gives me when I lift the paper cutout up and it doesn’t fall apart
  13. The shadow it casts
  14. The simplicity and honesty of the materials, tools, and process
  15. The complexity it is capable of
  16. All the unwanted little pieces of paper on the floor
  17. How difficult it is to make
  18. When I save an almost irreversible mistake
  19. The silence
  20. How one work opens the door to the next

Making a Video

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette came to my studio on Tuesday to make a video of my work and process. It will be up on their Web site next week.

This is the first video documenting my work and making it was quite interesting. My creative process is necessarily solitary. Apparently, I was not used to have a camera in my face so it felt awkward in the beginning. There was no rehearsal or do-over. It was very spontaneous. Besides the videographer, the newspaper’s art critic was also present. All the questions they asked me I didn’t know ahead of time.

The video will only be a few minutes long but we did an hour of show and tell. So I am curious how it would come together after the editing.

But hopefully, the video will be interesting because there are quite a few new pieces no one has ever seen before, like the one shown here in detail shot. This piece is said to be the videographer’s favorite.

New paper cutout (detail)

New paper cutout (detail)

Please check back next week for the link to view the video.