| Graduating senior Elizabeth Lee says two periods in her Reed career have changed her life's focus forever: taking a two-year break to do other things and enrolling in Hsingyuan Tsao's contemporary Chinese art history course. The first experience convinced Lee that she should change her major from biology to art. The second experience compelled her to pursue summer research in China and to organize an art exchange exhibit between Portland and Hangzhou, China.|
Lee grew up in the foothills outside Denver, gardening, cycling, camping, and generally "gaining my inspiration from the outdoors." Consequently, Lee applied to Reed and its renowned biology department. After two years of studying biology at Reed, a place she still calls "my dream school," Lee found a summer job at a self-sustaining organic farm in northern Idaho. The summer job extended into a two-year leave of absence. After working on the farm during the day, Lee began to enjoy drawing in the evenings. She became influenced by artist Joseph Beuys's philosophy of the "social importance of art" and decided she enjoyed art's "visual, relative language" more than the "factual proof" required by science.