Nard Lee

My artwork contains duality: black and white; loss and hope; protest and conformity. I use deep, saturated tones -- inviting but adversarial, contributing to the tension within the painting.

The combination of acrylic, chalk and oil pastel within the paintings can be considered confrontational in their intensity.

They are multi-layered and have subtle beauty, intensity, and have been described as unsettling. My influences include Jean Michel Basquiat and Salvador Dali, and as I have mature artistically, I am more influenced by Marcus Jansen.

Born and raised in Washington, DC, my upbringing in the Southeast area of the city have been a great influence on my artwork. I explore unsolved questions regarding racial inequity, class, politics and religion. However, my dominant lens will always be that of the often overlooked and underestimated kid keenly aware of how the outside world views people who look like him.

I seek to create art that make us think about ourselves and our world in a different light. They are raw and have a roughness to them. What they are about may not be obvious at first glance but I’m hoping that you take time to explore the detail that gives the artwork a deeper meaning.


Cult of Mediocracy

Chinia Achebe stated, "We have displayed a consistent inclination since we assumed management of our affairs to opt for mediocrity and compromise, to pick a third and fourth eleven to play for us.” Unfortunately, the United States seems to have adopted this mindset and we seem to "settle for average." Critical thinkers are hard to find.

Kool Aid “Kool Aid”

48 x 48”. Multimedia. 2020. It’s much easier for con men to dupe the people who trust them the most. Far too often these same people continue to drink the Kool Aid even after they’ve been told by the con man, “I exploit you, still you love me.”

Hashtag “Hashtag”

48 x 48". Mixed Media. 2020. Studies show that Hashtags have a direct relationship on cultural values. Findings also reveal that there are 4 dimensions of hashtags to include inspirational, structural, entertaining and artistic. In addition, findings show that cultural values associated with power distance relate to higher hashtag intensity. At the end of the day hashtags bring out the best and worst in us - ultimately lowering the bar of what we can achieve individually and as a society.

I'm Afraid of Americans “I'm Afraid of Americans”

72 x 72". Mixed Media. 2020. I often hear from politicians that I’ll be a law and order - fill in the blank. Our country has an obsession with penal codes and we’re all familiar with 187. The majority of these codes are unique to individual states, so there are literally millions to sort through. We all come in contact with them every day. Daily news stories just select the worst of these codes to to broadcast on a daily basis. Many of us would agree at just how good America is at violence. See Native Americans, Slavery, Mexico, etc. Our corporations are just as culpable and participate in the sale of automatic weapons. Regardless of the number of mass shootings that take place. There are a lot of reasons to be afraid of Americans.

Undecided “Undecided”

60 x 48". Mixed Media. 2020. Basquiat said, "The country makes me a little more paranoid you know. I think the crazy people out there are little crazier." The current client has divided our countrymen more than ever with no end in sight. Original thought has been diminished. Facts no longer matter and talking heads prevail. But if you're right or wrong, you have an opinion. How can you still be undecided?

Democracy? “Democracy?”

48 x 48” Acrylic and oil pastel. 2020. We vote for and against our best interests for people who prioritize their best interests. It doesn’t matter if you’re from SE DC or Nowhere Town, USA, when will folks realize that we’re all fighting for second place?

Urban Jungle

Inner city influences that span the Jim Crow South to Modern Day.

Certificate of Birth aka DOA “Certificate of Birth aka DOA”

Mixed Media. 48 x 48”. 2020. Based on my actual birth certificate where I was labeled “colored.” Welcome to America.

Beautiful Slur “Beautiful Slur”

Mixed Media. 48 x 36”. 2020. Slurs have made their way onto almost every inhabitant on the planet earth. They dishonor humanity. Lets change their meanings. Unfortunately, there are many to choose from.

Messiah “Messiah”

Acrylic on canvas. 18 x 24.” Jesus returns as a young man from the hood that’s survived a violent upbringing.

Non-violent “Non-violent”

Mixed Media. 24 x 18”. 2020. A young boy hides within himself knowing that if he isn’t careful, he’d be viewed as a monster by the world.

Southeast Sainthood “Southeast Sainthood”

Acrylic on Canvas. 18x24” 2020. Bullet wounds and prison time was considered a right of passage for Black men in DC. An unfortunate truth.

Enough “Enough”

48" x 48". Acrylic on canvas. 2020. A depiction of hope and hopelessness.

Easter Sunday Brunch “Easter Sunday Brunch”

36 x 24". Acrylic on Canvas. 2020. The Jim Crow South made sure that you knew your place. It didn't matter if it was Easter Sunday.

Hashtag 2020 “Hashtag 2020”

60 x 48". Mixed Media. 2020. An observation of the 2020 protests defined by police shootings of unarmed Black men. Hashtags can be a noun and verb that have the power to facilitate change.

Split Personality

Internal exploration. Am I a good person?

Faceless American “Faceless American”

48 X 36". Mixed Media. 2020. Still fighting to remove the “hyphen.” Why can’t I just be American? I'm not confused. Just exhausted.

Quite the Pair “Quite the Pair”

72 x 72". Mixed Media. 2020. Depending on your relationship, you’ll prefer the Queen right side up or the King right side up. You can’t have both.

Soul Sold “Soul Sold”

60 x 48"' Mixed Media. 2020. What people do to get ahead.

Five Faces of Me “Five Faces of Me”

36 x 60". Mixed Media. 2020. 5 personas. 5 personalities. 5 situations. 1 person.

Disquiet “Disquiet”

18 x 24". Mixed Media. 2020. I’ve never lived in fear but experience endless anxiety. Every day I wear a mask to power through.


The United States isn't a country. Its a business...

This is Not America. “This is Not America.”

48 x 72". Mixed Media. 2020. The US is a democracy and has never been a monarchy. Yet many of its citizens have suddenly become utterly confused by this simple fact.

Sally Hemming's Babies Daddy “Sally Hemming's Babies Daddy”

60 x 48". Mixed Media. 2020. What really happened at Monticello? Well it depends on who you ask. If you ask the 600 slaves forced to their lives in bondage - you’ll get one answer. If you ask the 3rd president of the US - you’ll get another. But if you ask Sally Hemming the slave and mother of 6 of his children. You’ll get quite another answer. Declaration of Independence had little meaning to slaves on a plantation. They were just markings on paper that they weren’t allowed to understand.

Reparation “Reparation”

48 x 48". Mixed Media. 2020. There is a long history of the US paying reparations to deserving people. This includes Japanese Americans and Native Americans (at a 1/20 of what was paid to Japanese Americans), for seized land. Native Hawaiians, who’s race almost died out when it’s population decreased from nearly 690K to 22,000. Why not slavery? Hmmm. After all this time. What could be the reason? No matter how you get to the number. 11 cents an hour per slave up to the year 1865. Compounded annually at 3%. It’s a big number.

Mark “Mark”

48 x 48". Mixed Media. 2020. The Voting Rights Act ended the use of literacy tests in the South in 1965 and the rest of the country in 1970.
In Mississippi, applicants were required to transcribe and interpret a section of the state constitution and write an essay on the responsibilities of citizenship. Registration officials selected the questions and interpreted the answers, effectively choosing which applicants to pass and which to fail. During this time, illiteracy rates amongst Blacks were extremely high and they were forced to “acknowledge” the document as they were unable to sign their name. They could only “mark” the document.

Pledge “Pledge”

18 x 24". Acrylic on Canvas. 2020. US Flag reimagined .

Sacrificed “Sacrificed”

60 x 48". Mixed Media. 2020. The iconic protest of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic games reimagined.