James David Lee:  $148,475.59

Exhibition Dates: December 2 – December 21, 2016 

Opening Reception & Artist Talk: Friday, December 2, 6-9pm

$148,475.59 is an installation that presents the paper documentation of artist James David Lee’s student loan debt, which includes his loan application, promissory note, bank correspondence, and debt management materials from the lender. These are all evidence of the $148,475.59 that the artist must repay.

Lee’s installation explores the personal, political, and economic dimensions of debt. Debt often arises from individual aspirations (getting a certain degree, owning a home in a certain place), yet financial institutions, when they transform this debt into financial products, aggregate, average, and anonymize these singular, human characteristics. By doing this, financial institutions look to quantify and reduce risk, but that risk is wily and unpredictable with unique circumstances at play. Credit risk is inextricable from societal factors of class and race, ultimately raising questions about debt as an instrument of structural injustice.

About James David Lee:

James David Lee is a painter whose practice explores the ambiguity of worth and worthlessness. He received a bachelor’s degree in Art History from Yale University and a law degree from Stanford Law School. His work is in the collections of the Yale University Arts of the Book Collection, the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, and the Book Club of California. James lives and works in San Francisco.