Ernest Lee, American

Ernest Lee

Ernest Lee began painting around age five. Currently he sets up his portable studio by the side of a road in Columbia, SC. When he's not there, he is attending one of the many art festivals he participates in throughout the year. He says he's painted 11,000 pieces in the last 8 years. He paints more than chickens, but they are the subject that people see and instantly recognize "Chicken Man" art.

Folk artist Ernest Lee is best known as "The Chicken Man." He describes his unique brand of folk art as a process that "I do [paint] from my heart, not from pictures." "Be what you are, don't be what you ain't. Because if you be what you ain't, then you ain't what you are." - Ernest Lee.

A native of Edgefield, South Carolina, Ernest Lee has been drawing since he was 5 years old and painting since he was 12. While considered an "outsider artist" Ernest has studied art at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art in Alexandria, VA., and the Rose Hill Art Center in Aiken, SC. A prolific artist he is currently best known for his dancing chicken paintings though he also paints dogs, cats, flamingos, and celebrities.

Ernest is well known in Columbia, SC, where for many years he maintained an outdoor street corner gallery with his van and trailer. Ernest's work has been exhibited in such places as the South Carolina State Museum, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Washington, DC.

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