“Roxbury” is a stunning landscape of architecture and city deleterious. Moon-Joo Lee received her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Department of Painting in 2003 and received the schools' Top Prize with this painting. “Roxbury” subsequently was on display at Chrysler’s World Headquarters for a period of time. While at Cranbrook she began to document the ubiquitous construction sites skirting Detroit and similar cities across the country. The transitory urban fabric became her compelling subject, emblematic of fluctuating socio-economic conditions and a widespread culture of uncertainty. - Joe Houston of Cranbrook Art Museum.
Lee’s painting “Roxbury” captures the cycle of construction, destruction and reconstruction that perpetually transforms the American city scene. In this image, a business that boasts NEW in its signage is already in the process of being destroyed. This could be a scene of bombing or environmental damage, but per Moon-Joo Lee’s aesthetics, the mountainous terrain of assorted refuse is there to remind the viewer that perhaps new and better do not necessarily mean that nor do they guarantee positive change. Lee's contemporary landscape underscores the extent to which nature has been supplanted by a manufactured environment, portraying rampant cultural transformation as a modern expression of manifest destiny.
Moon-Joo Lee is one of the many well-known artists who attended The Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, that was designed by architect and faculty member, Eliel Saarinen who collaborated with Charles and Ray Eames on chair and furniture design. It is the country’s top ranked, graduate-only program in architecture, design and fine art. Each year, just 75 students are invited to study and live on the landmark Saarinen-designed campus which features: private studios, state-of-the art workshops, the renowned Cranbrook Art Museum and 300 acres of forests, lakes and streams, all a short drive from the city of Detroit. The focus at Cranbrook is on studio practice in one of ten disciplines including Architecture, 2D and 3D Design, Ceramics, Fiber, Metalsmithing, Painting, Photography, Print Media, and Sculpture. The program is anchored by celebrated Artists- and Designers-in-Residence, one for each discipline, all of whom live and practice on campus alongside the graduate students.
Numerous creative artists who are alumni of Cranbrook include: Harry Bertoia, Florence Knoll, Jack Lenor Larsen, Donald Lipski, Duane Hanson, Nick Cave, Hani Rashid, George Nelson, Urban Jupena (Nationally recognized fiber artist), Artis Lane (the first African-American artist to have her sculpture, "Sojourner Truth," commissioned for the Emancipation Hall in the Capital Visitor Center in Washington DC), Cory Puhlman (televised Pastry Chef extraordinaire), Thom O’Connor (Lithographs), Paul Evans (Brutalist-inspired sculpted metal furnishings), Eugene Caples (small bronze images/abstract), Morris Brose (Bronze Sculptures), Herb Babcock (blown glass), Larry Butcher (mixed media), Lauren Anais Hussey (Abstract), Andrea Eis (film, photography), Lilian Swann Saarinen (Sculpture), Douglas Semivan