Dr. Michele Lee Lambert - Artist SpotlightFeb 05, 2022
Artist’s Spotlight -- originally published April 15, 2021
A WOMAN WHO PAINTS HER ANCESTRY, DR. MICHELE LEE LAMBERT
Picture this: you are inside a book written by an artist and neurologist from Jamaica, Dr. Michele Lee Lambert. The first thing you see are rich colors; turquoise, oranges, deep sea blues. The setting is in a Jamaican village or countryside. You are aware of the decaying beauty of aged buildings and their gritty patina. You see Dr. Lambert’s ancestors; strong, black women wearing large hats that hold goods. Hats that suggest grandeur despite their humble, quotidian purpose. They balance these goods as they balance their own private lives. Yet, they wear their hats like crowns. They are queens in the fields, the royalty of earth, mothers and wives.
In the artwork titled, “Market Woman” represents entrepreneurship for black women. An encaustic painting of a woman dressed in a jacket the color of mango, and a blue hat with a red basket on top. She is surrounded by splashes of teal and watery navy blue. Dr. Lambert celebrates and gives homage to these women of the marketplace sharing their pluck, strength, and dignity.
The next page in this visual book will be the story of Dahlia from childhood to womanhood. Dr. Lambert chronicles through her photo encaustic work the Dahlia story. In the piece titled, “How To Grow Dahlia” is a child with a wide smile, who inherently knows she is special. Her smile implies an open secret—the knowledge of her value and goodness. Those who look closely will recognize it. We also see Dahlia in the piece, ”Di Royal Palace” standing in the window, with a dog in front of the building. You ask yourself, is Dahlia dreaming of this place or does she see herself as a princess in her own right? Perhaps it is the latter.
In the work, “Dear Miss Dahlia” a letter addressed to her is etched in gold ink over a photo encaustic of Dahlia’s face. An embedded letter which hints that those written words entered Dahlia’s body. Those words are blood and sinew. A metaphor and message that affected her entire life. One believes that those words were loving.
In the work titled, “Dahlia’s Drawer” is an old printer’s tray that reveals Dahlia’s life, love, heartbreak and hope. Inside are items such as a key, lock, an old tin of arnica compound, a photo of a dapper man. In the artwork, “Keep Hoping” continues the story of Dahlia as she deals with bigotry and financial struggles. Each of the pieces about her reminds one of films strips, with snippets from her life. It is a privilege that we are given an intimate glimpse of Dr. Lambert’s ancestors. It is a story that needs to be told.
Dr. Lambert also creates exquisite abstract encaustics full of energy and power. Lambert is a story-teller-artist, whispering in our ears to pay attention to the women she celebrates and to their strength. To pay attention to their universal stories, to pay attention to the lingering esthetics of time-worn buildings and the stories that are behind their state of decay, and those of her ancestors. Dahlia would be proud of her.