A digital archive of Asian/Asian American contemporary art history

Shin, Jean

Other Names: 신진

Artist Website

"My work speaks of the optimism inherent in giving new form to life’s leftovers. In my sculptures and large-scale installations, I seek to recall an object’s past, as well as suggest its greater connection to our collective memories, desires and failures.

"My inventory of everyday materials includes broken umbrellas, donated clothing, losing lottery tickets, emptied wine bottles and old computer keycaps. These humble remnants, often forgotten and no longer “useful”, retain the traces of their former lives. After accumulating and deconstructing hundreds—sometimes even thousands—of these cast-offs, I generate a seemingly [homogeneous] construction that in turn emphasizes the individuality and variety among apparently indistinct objects. As the uniformity of the collection falls away, the accumulation of ephemera reveals new meanings and associations.

"Frequently, I solicit donations from participants within a specific community. The donated items act as surrogates for the original owners by referencing the body both physically and metaphorically. Some works represent the body more abstractly while speaking to the ideas of sense, perception, and behavior. As a result, my installations become, in effect, group portraits or maps of contemporary society.

"The focus shifts constantly in my installations between individual and group identity, the single unit and the larger whole, the intimate and the excessive. My elaborate work-process mirrors these dualities, as objects of mass production and consumerism are transformed through intense handmade labor.

"Much of my work is site-specific, and thus establishes a dialogue with architecture and the outside environment. By reinserting these constructions to the public realm, I invite viewers to bring their own histories to the work. Through these interactions, each installation creates its own imaginary community and speaks to our shared experiences." --Jean Shin, Artist Statement

Gallery of Selected Works