Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled “Binaghi Lee” as Bhangi Lee. We apologize for the mistake.
Every Tuesday in the Nassau Hall painting studio from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., painter extraordinaire Kim Binaghi Lee from the Genesee Valley Council on the Arts offers demonstrations, tips and a space for students to let loose and enjoy the arts.
From a very young age, Binaghi Lee began her love affair with the world of art. Since her first masterpiece at the age of three, she has only continued to cultivate her passion for art through various mediums.
“I was three, I scribbled with red crayon on the wall of my great grandmother’s house; that’s how I got started,” Binaghi Lee said. “My great grandfather never took [the crayon] off, he said I’d be a famous painter someday, but that didn’t exactly happen.”
The life of an artist isn’t as glamorous as people picture it to be, oftentimes presenting challenges that make the struggle less than ideal. Faced with the pressures and demands of everyday life, Binaghi Lee had to make not only a difficult career decision, but a life decision as well.
“[Art] ended up being more or less a hobby, only because I was too afraid to commit in the way you have to commit to art,” Binaghi Lee said. “I was afraid of failing, I was afraid of starving and you can’t be that way.”
Even though art was no longer the focal point of her career, it remained a central part of her life.
“I took another route for my everyday bread and butter, but I always pursued art,” Binaghi Lee said. “I felt like it was my identity, it made me feel special and different from everyone else. So, I pursued it seriously since I was a child.”
Binaghi Lee moved to the Geneseo area upon retirement with her husband who graduated from Geneseo in 1976. She was ecstatic about the move because she thought she would have the opportunity to take a bunch of art classes to brush up and expand her art mediums.
Today, Geneseo doesn’t offer any physical art classes for their students to experiment and grow their love for the arts, which upsets Binaghi Lee.
“I’m disappointed. I audited one live drawing class here, but I was hoping to do just a few more audits just to keep in shape and the energy of a college campus,” Binaghi Lee said. “It’s hard to get that when working alone in a studio.”
The internet has erased some of the difficulties people experience when learning about art, according to Binaghi Lee. Physical classes on a campus while ideal, are not the only route for students to practice art techniques.
The internet has opened up the art community, uniting artists from all over the world for further connections, access to tutorials and art groups.
“If you go on YouTube, you’ll see so many artists on there now, sharing their work and how they do it.” Binaghi Lee said. “I’ve been on there, I get inspiration from them on DeviantArt, Pinterest, Etsy and you can share so much, and people are sharing everything.”
Today, Binaghi Lee is an active artist living her art dreams every day, or at least as often as everyday life will allow.
“I’m trying to do art every week,” Binaghi Lee said. “I should be doing it every day, but you know how that is.”
Binaghi Lee’s love for art has only continued to flourish as she continues to experiment with new media and meet new artists within the ever-expanding community, something she hopes to share and experience with all the talented budding artists of Geneseo.