“My own journey of identity formation and cultural belonging formed the motivation for this visual exploration of fatherhood. I used my lived experience of being nurtured by African American families and father figures since my early childhood while dealing with my personal history of paternal abandonment. This helped me build a specific visual vocabulary that guided me through this work.”
In Father Figure, Zun Lee offers an intimate view of the daily lives of Black fathers with whom he has worked closely since 2011—men from the Bronx, Harlem, and Washington Heights in New York who are often parenting within difficult economic and personal circumstances. Through his touching and honest black-and-white portraits, Lee invites us to see these men as dedicated parents who challenge stereotypes of Black masculinity and absent fathers.
Dr. Zun Lee is a Canadian visual artist, physician, and educator whose work encourages alternate ways of thinking about community and belonging. He was born and raised in Germany and has also lived in Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Intersubjectivity and trust dynamics are an important component of Lee’s work as he embeds himself in his subjects’ daily lives to uncover stories of identity and connection. Lee has exhibited solo shows at Duke University, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts + Culture and BAND Gallery in Toronto, Jefferson School of African American Heritage Center in Charlottesville, VA, and Galerie Jed Voras in Paris. Selected honors and awards include: Art Gallery of Ontario Artist-in-Residence (2017), Magnum Foundation Fellow (2015), Photo District News Photo Annual Winner (2015), Paris Photo/Aperture Photobook Awards Shortlist (2014), and Photo District News’ 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch (2014).