Mel Chin:
All Over The Place

Mel Chin: All Over the Place, presents a fresh, multi-location exhibition with exciting manifestations of the work of Mel Chin co-produced by the Queens Museum and No Longer Empty. The exhibition will span nearly four decades of Chin’s malleable and wide-ranging approach to artistic practice that has evaded any neat classification. Exhibition sites in New York City include the Queens Museum, Times Square, and the Broadway-Lafayette subway station.

The objects and project artifacts in All Over the Place will be organized around the thematic strands that have long preoccupied Chin’s thinking, including the natural environment, socioeconomic systems and injustice, the weight of lamentations as well as the lightness of humor to reveal truths. Botany, ecology, and oceanography are examples of the disciplines that intersect in the artist’s politically charged work and demonstrate how art can promote social awareness and responsibility and reanimate curiosity. Select works will highlight Chin’s engagement of multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork in order to posit community-based solutions to ecological and sociopolitical crises. As a result of such teamwork, Chin’s work challenges the idea of the artist as the exclusive creative force behind an artwork.

All Over the Place will debut three newly commissioned projects, Flint FitUnmoored, and WakeFlint Fit, an ambitious, boundary-breaking project, consists of a complex triangulation of places and processes. A surplus of empty plastic water bottles in Flint, Michigan, that stems from the lead contaminated local water supply, is currently being gathered and sent to a processing facility in Greensboro, North Carolina. There, the bottles will be transformed into thread and fabric and sent on to renowned fashion designer and Michigan native, Tracy Reese, in New York City. Reese will design the Flint Fit Collection using the new material and the Flint-based women’s sewing collective at the N.E.W. Life Center will manufacture all the garments back in Michigan.

Unmoored is planned as a spectacular, surreal phenomenon pushing Augmented Reality to fill the skies above Times Square. It is a work to engender a moment of awe, with a glimpse into the future. A parallel work, Wake, commissioned by the Times Square Alliance, is a presence evoking the hull of a shipwreck crossed with the skeletal remains of a marine mammal bleached by erosion and time. A larger-than-life ship’s figurehead based on Jenny Lind, the superstar of the 19th century, surveys the air above her. While offering a shift from the frenetic energy of the city, these works evoke the city’s triumphs, its grave dark past, and create and a place for contemplation.

All Over the Place is curated by Queens Museum Director Laura Raicovich, and Manon Slome, Co-Founder and Chief Curator of No Longer Empty.

Mel Chin (b. 1951, Houston, TX) is known for the broad range of approaches in his art, including works that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork and works that conjoin cross-cultural aesthetics with complex ideas. In 1989, he developed Revival Field, a project that was a pioneer in the field of “green remediation,” the use of plants to remove toxic, heavy metals from the soil. From 1995 to 1998, Chin formed a collective that produced In the Name of the Place, a conceptual public art project conducted on the popular prime-time TV series, Melrose Place. In KNOWMAD, Chin worked with software engineers to create a video game based on rug patterns of nomadic people facing cultural disappearance, and his hand-drawn, 24-minute film, 9-11/9-11, won the prestigious Pedro Sienna Award—the “Oscar” of Chile—for best animation in 2007. A current project, Fundred Dollar Bill Project, focuses on national awareness and prevention of childhood lead-poisoning through art-making. Chin is also well-known for his iconic sculptures and installations, works that often address the importance of memory and collective identity, and for inserting art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and most recently, for working with advanced augmented reality (AR) technology, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility.

Image: Mel Chin, Sea to See, installation view, 2014. Courtesy Mint Museum of Art/Mel Chin Studio.

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