Artistic Endeavors – Jean Shin

Sometimes it takes an artist’s eye to see possibilities in discarded objects.  Pieces at a recent exhibit of Jean Shin’s work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art use discarded clothing and fashion related materials Shin often crowd sources and refashions into installations. Worn Soles particularly appealed to me. I gather the artist re-configures it for each display space.

Worn Soles
In Worn Soles, the artist has separated the bodies of used shoes from their soles. These disembodied objects are placed heel-side up along the floor in crowded groups, the resulting topography undulating as the heels vary in height. The arrangement of the soles suggests the movement of crowds of people—at times spreading outward, ready to disperse, and at others flowing together in a single direction. Every worn sole is unique and evokes the presence of the body that wore it. Like wrinkles on the skin, the surface is a drawing in which every step produces a mark that maps the owners’ pasts. (taken from Shin’s website)
Following are some of her other installations that caught my eye. Many are for public spaces rather than museums, and so their intent and effects differ. The descriptions are from Shin’s website.


A site-specific installation, Unraveling visualizes the web of interrelationships among members of the Asian American arts community. The artist unravels sweaters that have been donated by individuals in each exhibition city and then reassembles the brightly colored yarns into a dynamic installation that maps this dense social network. The name of each participant is silkscreened onto a label that is sewn onto the edge of the owner’s deconstructed sweater.

Sound Wave
Records were melted and sculpted to form a cascading wave, dotted with bursts of colorful labels. The resulting structure speaks to the inevitable waves of technology that render each successive generation of recordable media obsolete. The piece also aims to physically manifest the ephemerality of music as well as one man’s musical tastes, as represented by his personal record collection.
Rescued from the street after windy storms, broken umbrellas have been deconstructed, reassembled and re-introduced to the outdoor elements. Attached to trees, this large canopy of primarily black umbrellas provides a passage of welcome shade in the park as it interacts with the sun and breeze, creating a play of shadows below.


Filed under Commentary, Exhibits

12 responses to “Artistic Endeavors – Jean Shin

  1. Such cool works! I liked the umbrellas, too, all layered like that and with the light coming through. And the shoe soles made me think of what a heyday Sherlock Holmes could have, discerning the nature of the wearers by the patterns of scuffs and wear.

  2. That was a fun post that really sparks ideas. It amazes me how some minds work! Rosemaryflower’s kitty yard ball story/comment – LOL!

  3. All of them are wonderful. I especially love the umbrellas.

  4. Rosemaryflower

    These are wonderful
    I love the umbrellas!! The records… that is okay, kind of sad to destroy such gems (LOL) and the shoes…. I am speechless😮
    Now the strings…. I do love this. It brings back a memory from about 30 years ago when we had our first two cornish rex cats. over night they got into a yarn project my little daughters were playing with (a basket of colorful balls of yarn), when I woke up the next morning and walked into the kitchen familyroom, I was presented with a masterpiece of yarn. each ball have been unrolled presumably, one at a time, and wrapped around chair legs, table legs, it looked like a huge room sized very colorful web, a happy web
    At first (before coffee) it took me a while to figure out what took place with those two. What a busy night as we slept

    • Too bad you didn’t take a picture of your cats’ creation, or should I say installation. Sounds like it was museum worthy.

      • Rosemaryflower

        I know…. I have the picture in my head. This was 1991. We just did not have a quality camera that was capable of making a photo of that. I recall that I was not sure what I was looking at for many seconds. I did not rush to clean it up either.

      • Sometimes the pictures we carry in our heads are the best.

    • Oh my goodness, I can just imagine your home with all the yarn webbed around! Fabulous image. 🙂

      Joanna, this was very interesting. I also am most taken with the unraveling piece, but the soles is very intriguing, too. Obviously, I need to get to more art museums…

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