Jae Rhim Lee. TED Fellows Retreat – August 26-30, 2015, Asilomar Conference Grounds, Pacific Grove, CA. Photo: Bret Hartman/TED


Jae Rhim Lee is a visual artist, designer, and researcher whose work proposes unorthodox relationships between the mind/body/self and the built and natural environment. Jae Rhim’s work follows a research methodology which includes self-examination, transdisciplinary immersion and dialogue, and diy design, ultimately taking the form of living units, furniture, wearables, recycling systems, and personal and social interventions.

In 2008, after working for the City of New Orleans Mayor’s Office of Recovery Development and Administration, Jae Rhim founded and directed the MIT FEMA Trailer Project.  The Project examined the environmental, social and political history of FEMA Trailers deployed in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and transformed a single surplus FEMA Trailer into the “Armadillo,” a mobile composting center with vertical gardens and rainwater catchment system, permaculture library, and indoor multipurpose space.

Jae Rhim’s current work, the Infinity Burial Project, proposes alternatives for the post-mortem body and features the training of a unique strain of an edible mushroom to decompose and remediate toxins in human tissue, the development of a decomposition ‘kit,’ and a membership society devoted to the promotion of death acceptance and the cultivation of decomposing organisms.

Jae Rhim studied psychology and the natural sciences at Wellesley College, received a Master of Science in Visual Studies from MIT, and holds a certificate in permaculture design. Her work has been exhibited in Europe and in the US. She is a recipient of a 2009 Creative Capital Foundation Grant, a 2010 Grant from the Institut fur Raumexperimente/Universitaet der Kunste Berlin, and a 2011 MAK Schindler Scholarship and Artist Residency in Los Angeles, CA.  Lee is a 2011 TED Global Fellow and a Research Fellow in the MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology in Cambridge, MA.