• A new art exhibition explores the origins of human life through abstract sculptures and paintings. Artist Dong Hee Lee’s new solo exhibition, “The Story of Life,” runs through July 1 at the Yegam Art Space at 196-50 Northern Blvd. in Flushing.

    The pieces that attach to walls, hang from the ceiling, or stretch across the floor, are inspired by the human creation process, as the egg and sperm join into a zygote and begin the earliest stages of development. A hanging collection of gelatinous orbs evokes eggs or the division of cells, while an orderly stream of wall-mounted pieces brings sperm to mind.

    The pieces are color-coded, with black structures reflecting masculine reproductive cells and white representing feminine ones. Lights and shadows play a part in the show, notably in an LED light series that explores the development of the human embryo.

    Originally from Korea, Lee earned her bachelor’s degree in fine art from Long Island University in 2009 and completed her fine art master’s degree there in May. Her work has appeared throughout New York City, including solo shows at the LIU Sculpture Gallery in 2010 and the SAL Gallery in Brookville, NY last year.

    “The Story of Life” reflects a shift from Lee’s early work, which focused on what she called “our contemporary culture of death.” Exploring themes of violence, pain, and self-destruction, these early works were in part aimed at making audiences face uncomfortable ideas about dark subjects.

    But in recent projects, Lee came to believe that showing audiences disturbing imagery created more of the alienation and suffering that she wanted to critique, and decided it was time for a change in focus.

    “Now I am more interested in portraying the infinite potential of the beginning of life—a time and space before the restrictions, boundaries, and pressures when society determines who we are,” said Lee. “I want to create artwork that evokes life before identity, the open future that exists before one enters the world.”

    But she emphasized that creation also comes out of a complex and sometimes brutal process of competition and survival, which can occasionally veer into dark territory. In the exhibition, Lee tries to evoke what she calls “the drama and beauty of our invisible origins.”

    Lee uses hot glue as her primary material, which allows her to create the abstract organic forms of webs, clusters, globes and pouches.

    “I create spheres out of a matrix of hundreds of interconnected rings of hot glue, extruded from a hot glue gun,” said Lee. “Sculpting with hot glue is extremely versatile, as I can work on a delicate scale or across large areas by building up accumulations of small units or covering extensive forms with the glue mesh.”

    Lee described the Yegam Art Space as an ideal location to showcase her work, in particular finding that the space’s high ceiling and huge window allows her to better connect with her audience.

    “There are many possibilities for developing my material technique in new directions, and exploring new concepts and methods in future projects,” said Lee.

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  • Every night, something unusual happens in Samuel Kimani’s home on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya. Samuel, 48, lives with his wife Mary and their three children. Their family supports itself day-to-day through their main source of income, their cow Baraka, whose milk is collected daily and sold directly to customers for about $1.8 a day. Their township has few amenities and grid electricity is available only to the few who can afford it. But at Samuel’s house, two bright lights shine all through the evening.

    Samuel used to light his home with a single kerosene lamp, which filled the rooms with smoke and poor-quality light and cost $3 a week. With his low income, Samuel could support his family, but he wasn’t able to make long-term investments in other systems to light his home.

    That is, until he became the first person in the world to use the IndiGo pay-as-you-go solar energy system. Samuel purchased the system for an affordable $10 and now activates it automatically with a $1 scratch-card each week. Through IndiGo, Samuel’s small home now has two bright lights providing eight hours of light each evening, which enables the kids to study in the living room whilst Mary prepares food in the kitchen. Instead of spending $0.20 to charge each of their three mobile phones at one of the many local kiosks he simply charges them at home, saving $1.5 per week in the process.

    The solar-as-a-service model plays very well in emerging countries partly because the pay as you go model is well understood; people have pay as you go mobile phones. But also because we’ve eliminated the upfront cost of buying a solar light, so we can give people an economic return on a day by day basis.

    Where people don’t have electric light their options are kerosene or in some cases candles – about 80% of Zambia uses candles – and in South Sudan, for instance some people even just use grass as a way of lighting their houses. The amount of money people spend on kerosene for lighting is huge – about 38 billion dollars.

    When you compare the cost of that kerosene light for light with mains electric lighting, the light out of a typical kerosene lamp costs between a hundred and a thousand times as much – just because it’s a very inefficient lamp and kerosene’s expensive. So you end up with a situation where the people who have the least income in the world are paying not just a bit more for their energy but vastly more for their energy.

    By providing solar we can eliminate that cost and replace it with something more modern and up to date. For example, in Kenya people are spending the equivalent of about 12 dollars a month for kerosene and for charging their mobile phone. We’re providing the IndiGo solar energy system for just over a dollar a week, so effectively for five dollars a month the user is getting light for two rooms and also power to charge a mobile. So we’ve roughly halved people’s energy spend and we’ve given them the benefit of solar power instead of kerosene.

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  • The way they see it, racing at Texas Motor Speedway gives Roush Fenway Racing drivers the chance to separate themselves from the Sprint Cup pack.

    Carl Edwards, who won both Cup events in 2008, is the only driver to win three races at Texas in NASCAR’s premier series. Matt Kenseth, who has won twice here, leads all drivers with 10 top-five finishes and 13 top-10s. And recently, series points leader Greg Biffle has been the most consistent driver in the Roush Fenway stable with seven consecutive top-10 finishes on the 1.5-mile superspeedway.

    “You really feel like you need to capitalize when you come to this track,” Kenseth said Thursday, prior to practice for Saturday night’s Samsung Mobile 500 . “You feel like yourself or one of your team cars needs to have a shot to win and you should all be running up toward the front.

    “It feels like one of you should have a shot to win or the boss will probably be disappointed Monday morning.”

    Team owner Jack Roush has rarely left Texas disappointed since winning the inaugural race at Texas with Jeff Burton in 1997. Only four drivers in the last seven years (14 Cup races) have a rating of 100 or higher at Texas and three are his drivers: Kenseth (106.5), Biffle (100.8) and Edwards (100.0). The other is Tony Stewart (105.8), who won here in November.

    “We have had huge success at Texas,” said Edwards, who sees Texas a precursor to the season ahead. “We have run really well at these mile-and-a-half tracks.”

    Additionally, Texas is a night race, and four of the next six Cup events will end under the lights.

    Combine a sweep of the Cup events by Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin in 2010 with Roush Fenway’s Texas success, and there’s nothing but scraps left for Hendricks Motorsports, which is struggling to start the season.

    Although Jeff Gordon is first in laps led and Jimmie Johnson is third in that department, their finishes belie those numbers. Five-time champion Johnson, recovering from his 42nd at the Daytona 500, is 10th in points; four-time champ Gordon, with no better than an eighth this season (at Phoenix International Raceway), sits 21st.

    And while Dale Earnhardt Jr. has started strong (in second, six points behind Biffle), Kasey Kahne has been a disappointment. Despite winning two poles and starting 10th or better in each of the last five races, Kahne has finished no higher than 14th and hasn’t led a lap in his first season of a four-year deal with Hendrick.

    “Our performance has a little bit to do with luck,” Kahne said Thursday. “We’re fast. We’ve been really good every race this year. We just haven’t finished any of them off very well.

    “It’s frustrating, but also exciting for me to know that I don’t have to do it all right now. We have a good, long period of time with Hendrick — four years. I know I am going to have great race cars. Hopefully, we get it figured out and I can go on a good run.”

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  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are purposely coy about their relationship. In fact, the only time they drop a little nugget of information about their private lives is when one of them is promoting a movie. Since they take turns working, that is pretty much all year round. Brad recently sat down with Entertainment Weekly to discuss not only his personal life with Angie and the kids, but his career.

    As always, Brad is pretty candid and holds no punches back. He has been in the business for a long time and has learned what he should or should not say, but just does not seem to care. He is currently filming his big production Zombie thriller movie, “World War Z” and promoting his film, “Moneyball.” It is clearly his turn to work!

    He talks about the agreement he and Angelina have in place about their work schedules and hints it may not be working.  As always, he is asked if he and Angie will ever work together again. He says, “We should be doing them together.” He reflects back on the collaboration of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” He says, “That was just a great collaboration that turned into a greater collaboration.” Yep, that joining led to three biological kids between the two and three adopted kids. That is one heck of a “collaboration.”

    It is as if a light bulb went on. He reiterates, “We should be doing everything together, and then we could work less. We could have more time off.” Oh, sounds like he is missing his woman. Brad and Angelina are two of the highest paid actors in the industry. They could probably afford to take some time off. Just saying.

    Brad talks about how much he hated the long, tedious filming  of “Interview With the Vampire.” He reveals just how close he came to quitting the whole production.  “David, I can’t do this anymore.  I can’t do it. How much will it take to get me out?’ And he goes, very calmly, ‘Forty million dollars.’” As we know, he sucked it up and pulled through.

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