Shin-Hee Chin – ‘Emergence’

Shin-Hee Chin is an internationally exhibited artist from McPherson, Kansas. Her work includes oil painting, mixed media, and fiber art. Cultural context has most shaped Shin-Hee’s work; she lived half her life in South Korea and the past two decades in the United States; she has had equal exposure to two vastly different cultures. Art has helped her reconcile the conflicts of the cultural influences. Her work reflects the antitheses of female vs. male; East vs. West; art vs. craft. Shin-Hee: “All these antitheses inhabit me, just as Korea and America co-exist in me and comprise major sources of inspiration. There is also a touch of feminist tradition, the Christian spirituality, and Eastern philosophy.”

In this show, entitled ‘Emergence’, Shin-Hee explores a series of mixed media collage based on Scriptures, especially Ecclesiastes. Through reflections upon life, the writer of Ecclesiastes reveals the multiple layers of human existence, characterized by the endless cycle of re/birth and death. Despite his observation of the incongruities of human experience, Shin-Hee feels that he affirms the ultimate meaning of human life.

“To create these collages,” says Shin-Hee,“I utilize a variety of remnants of fabrics of clothing that included worn-out, nearly unusable clothes of my family, as well as leftovers from my previous work. While working with these clothes and improvising with my artistic materials, I realized the infinite artistic potential of the devalued aspects of the domestic realm.”

“Metaphors to Christian ideology arise in this method of working. Recycling old cloth repurposes cast off material, just as the human soul is given new value through the redemption of Christ. In collaging new cloth over older layers, the older layers are not abolished, but rather a new interplay between the layers occurs. Cloth is a universal necessity, and thus often seen as mundane in one’s own country. However, cloth is also a unique cultural marker, especially from the viewpoint of other cultures.”

In experimenting with a variety of ‘domestic’ media such as clothes, threads, and paper, Shin-Hee’s hands participate in the intricate linking of the irregular pattern of threads that form vein, skin, and scar. One can see the process through the complexly interwoven and intricately entangled threads covering the work.

“The process of arbitrary wrapping and stitching, which does not differ much from the variety of tedious and repetitive activities that preoccupy women at home, enables me to understand the dynamic creative and inspirational potential of the seemingly trivial and devalued aspects of women’s labors for female artists. The slow nature of my technique seems to reenact the creative process of birthing. This recalls the gradual forming of the fetus through the intersection of capillary within the belly of the mother or perhaps the silkworm’s patient and continuous spinning leading to the creation of its cocoon. Thus, these pieces speak not so much of sorrow, anger, regrets but rather of healing, recovering, inner joy attained by/through converting the physical, oppressive condition into the stimulating and dynamic inner resources of my own creative life.”

Shin-Hee Chin’s work has been exhibited in the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland; Metropolitan Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan; Shanghai International Convention Center, China; Abil Mente Gallery in Vincenza, Italy; and Jin Heung Art Hall in Seoul, Korea.