Burke Residency 28: Crystal Lee Early

Written by Margaret Stoll


Posted on August 17 2023

MAGGIE: Hi Crystal! I'm so excited to feature your artwork through the Burke Residency program! Many Burke customers may know you well from your role as local entrepreneur and designer at 3 Women, but for those who don't can you give us a little introduction to Crystal Lee Early?

CRYSTAL: Hi Maggie! Thank you for providing your beautiful space for my first ever art show! I cannot think of a better place to have it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my work here. I’m a preserver of sacred scraps and tender moments, living in LONG BEACH, California for the last 22 years, where the romance of my life unfolds. My first collection of artwork, Stay Planted, was named after some timely words my mother wrote in one of her many inspirational notebooks:
"Be Planted, Don’t run.
Be in the presence of God.
Word - Stability.
Confront yourself (lovingly)."

Collage Art by Crystal Lee Early

M: Your artworks present as collages which seem similar in process to the textiles you patch together in your upcycled clothing designs as well. Have your skills and passions for vintage textiles informed the direction you're taking in your art?

C: With a reverence for that which endures with integrity and unique character, I
work exclusively with left-over scraps of vintage and antique textiles, ephemera, and old photographs. A spirit of resourcefulness, brought on by growing up poor, informs everything I create.
I was drawn to collage art because it was the most accessible and instinctual for me (I don’t know how to draw or paint). I enjoy combining scraps in a playful, meaningful way. Collage work, for me, is also intentionally intimate. Old textiles innately hold stories, known and unknown. I love to build my art and designs upon a lasting foundation and the stories that came before.

Collage Art by Crystal Lee Early

M: Your creative viewpoint is always so personal and intentional, and often
includes tributes to your family. What is your process for selecting the
subjects and pieces you include in your artwork? Additionally, what are your
main sources of inspiration?

C: I started collaging at a time when I was newly single and freshly self-employed for really the first time (a little before 3 Women). With my art practice (along with prayer and meditation), I found peace and direction in a time when everything seemed new. My art explores themes of intimacy, resilience, renewal, and love. I feature my ancestors in my work - strong and independent women, including my mother - the single mother saint of my heart, as a way to preserve their story, inspire myself, and hopefully others.

Collage Art by Crystal Lee Early

M: You're such a free spirit, and it's representative in your work. Witnessing that in you has been a huge inspiration to me as I know it is for many others who know you. Do you have any advice for anyone who is feeling intimidated about exploring a new art practice or creative path in their life?

C: Thank you so much for the sweet words.
The door is always open to your art. Open the door by creating, and don’t be afraid to create something aesthetically unpleasing - it’s bound to happen. Keep going until you create something you feel a tenderness for, something that moves you. Let go of judgment but be discerning. follow your heart.

Collage Art by Crystal Lee Early

M: I am so excited to be able to collaborate with you on your first art show here at
Burke. How is this body of work different from creative expressions of art or
design you've worked on in the past? Does this feel like a new expression for

C: I am so excited to share this experience with you and your audience. My collage work is more personal than my design work at 3 Women, though I I approach both with the same playfulness, resourcefulness, and desire to put out positive messaging.

Collage Art by Crystal Lee Early

M: Any future plans or goals for your creative practices that you want to share?

C: I want to revel in this moment fully. After that, I’d like to maybe participate in a
group art show and/or collaborate with other artists on some fun projects.

Collage Art by Crystal Lee Early

Crystal's Artwork will be on view in the shop August through October 2023. 



  • Comment author

    All created and spoken from the heart Crystal. Wonderful!

    Posted by A Cyn | October 04, 2023
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