Thursday, 31 March 2011

Circles, Jean Shin, and trying to be sustainable

'Settings is a permanent installation for the cafeteria of PS/IS 276 that is made of hundreds of plates and square tiles that have been arranged into a colorful and dynamic composition. By collecting decorative plates from homes in the nearby Battery Park City neighborhood, this installation extends the domestic realm into the public setting. While the plates themselves represent individual participants, the wide range of designs collectively speaks to the diversity of the neighborhood. From the initial gathering process to the completion of the work, many generations of students will come to understand that they are a vital part of a larger community. Ultimately, Settings is both a literal and abstracted portrait of local families and is inspired by the belief that the foundation of education begins in the home.'

Alterations, 1999. Fabric (pants scraps) and wax. 2 ft h x 12 ft w x 12 ft d
'In Alterations, a colourful and dense cityscape is constructed of hundreds of cylindrical forms made from the leftover fabric of shortened pants and blue jeans. The standing heights of each wax-stiffened cuff represent the measurement of the body in absence. The installation comments on one’s failure to measure up to the fashion industry’s standard size. '

'In Stepping Stones, hundreds of inverted pots and pans create a unique topography of used cookware that spreads across the landscape. Filled with cement and literally anchored into the ground with metal spikes, these common materials of both domestic life and commercial kitchens are transformed by being inserted into a new setting. When placed outdoors, these incredibly durable objects are no longer subjected to the extreme heat of a stove. Rather, through their physical interaction with nature and passersby, these metal vessels become active, acoustic surfaces.'

'Hide is an installation comprised of hundreds of worn leather shoes that have been laboriously deconstructed, paired and then stitched together to form 13 hanging sheets of rich, undulating color. Flattened and detached from their soles, the shoes have been divorced from their function and reduced to their material essence. With its wide range of color, detail, and design, the collection of leather “bodies” alludes to its materials’ origins as tanned animal hide.'

'Shin’s Untitled series of drawings were created by using wine bottles as stamps, dipping the bottoms of the bottles in different wines and staining the paper. Compositions of overlapping circles display a rich variety of reddish blue-gray hues, reflecting the assortment of wine types and bottle styles'.

'Jean Shin is nationally recognized for her monumental installations that transform everyday objects into elegant expressions of identity and community. For each project, she amasses vast collections of a particular object—prescription pill bottles, sports trophies, sweaters—which are often sourced through donations from individuals in a participating community. These intimate objects then become the materials for her conceptually rich sculptures, videos and site-specific installations. Distinguished by her meticulous, labor-intensive process, and her engagement of community, Shin’s arresting installations reflect individuals’ personal lives as well as collective issues that we face as a society.'

Images and quotations from

Have just become aware of Jean Shin's work. Yesterday in fact. Am very drawn to it. Particuarly the circles, as ever. But I'm most intrigued by her reusing of everyday objects. Things that already have a history, a story. Using them on mass. Giving them a new identity. A new reason for being. It's been a recurrent theme for me this week. I've been teaching about the works of Sarah Sze (again using household/ common objects in unexpected ways, but this time creating stories where before there were perhaps none). Had I known about this work, I would have used the two artists together. 

I'm searching for sustainability in my own practise. Really, really trying. I do already use a huge amount of salvaged items (all my base glass and metal content. And fabric). But I still use new where I don't yet have an alternative. I'm looking to source old wooden frames, boxes, trays for my exhibition next year. And to start firing my kiln from solar energy. It's my aim to launch my work as ethical and sustainable and I have just under a year to get my head around it (this is possibly quite stupid. Time will tell). Meanwhile. Jean Shin's work is raising my spirits. Keeping my pecker up. I like it. A lot. And am going to show it to my students next week.


  1. Goodness, this is thought provoking. I love the plates - what a lovely way to display them (the sort of thing I like to collect, but they end up in the cupboard). Not so sure about the saucepans, is it good to have metal next to earth...? The shoes - I love shoes, I don't think I could 'do that' to shoes. I hope to be teaching at a local Eco Centre from May and I really should be thinking more along these lines of sustainable resources. Trouble is, I just like pretty new things too much!


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