This Week in Art

Mel Chin Takes Over New York City, Theaster Gates Talks Sculpture & More

Mel Chin, Sea to See, installation view, 2014. Courtesy of the Mint Museum of Art and Mel Chin Studio.

Nearly four decades of Mel Chin’s multi-disciplinary and immersive work have taken over New York City as of April 8th. Co-produced by the Queens Museum and No Longer Empty, Mel Chin: All Over the Place presents a survey of Chin’s conceptual practice and features four newly commissioned works. Born in Houston to Chinese immigrants, Chin was heavily influenced by the cultural diversity of his neighborhood and his art similarly reflects a cross-cultural approach. Taking the city as a starting point for thinking about socioeconomic systems and injustice, he incorporates the natural environment, botany, and ecology to enable greater social awareness and inspire responsibility. Working in collaboration with communities, artisans, engineers, and nonprofits, Chin has created art in toxic landfills, made animated films about human love and tragedy, and commissioned computer games on the subject of forgotten peoples.

Newly commissioned projects for the exhibition include an augmented reality project in the center of Times Square and sound art played on select subway trains. Another project, Flint Fit, endeavors to connect the cities of New York, Flint, Michigan and Greensboro, North Carolina through time, function, and fashion to highlight the water crisis that still plagues the city of Flint. With the political always front and center, Chin continuously considers how to engage the public in a manner that balances playfulness and criticality. Whether the resulting work takes the form of a large-scale installation, software, an urban intervention, or drawing, Chin makes the conceptual accessible. All Over the Place will be on view at various venues, including the Queens Museum, through August 12.

News of the Week

  • The public art proposals for the redevelopment of San Francisco’s Treasure Island went on view last week. For the new Waterfront Plaza, Ai Weiwei has proposed the large hanging sculpture Snake Ceiling, as well as an installation of woven nautical netting viewers can climb through, entitled Fence for Treasure Island. For the new Yerba Buena Island Hilltop Park, Hiroshi Sugimoto has proposed the large-scale sculpture Point of Infinity, a hyperbolic curve formed by two converging lines that suggest both infinity and eternity. Public feedback is being solicited before the selected projects are commissioned later this year.
  • John Baldessari and his work made an appearance on a recent episode of The Simpsons. Asked by Marge about his paintings of floating ears and noses, the artist’s Simpsonized likeness responds, “Marge, the mouth has had its say. Now it’s time to find out what the nose knows.”
  • It was announced last week that Theaster Gates is joining Colby College’s Lunder Institute for American Art as the school’s first distinguished visiting artist and director of artist initiatives.
  • The most comprehensive retrospective of Adrian Piper’s work to date just opened at the Museum of Modern Art where it will be on view through July 22. Comprised of 290 works, including drawings, paintings, photographs, multimedia installations, videos, and performances, Adrian Piper: A Synthesis of Intuitions, 1965–2016 reveals the artist/philosopher’s monumental contributions to Conceptual art, and challenges our assumptions about the social structures that shape the world around us.

The Artist Speaks

This year’s Nasher Prize Laureate, Theaster Gates, participated in a public conversation with the Studio Museum’s Thelma Golden on Friday as part of a Laureate Town Hall in Dallas. “We need to own the building that we socialize in,” said the artist during the talk. “There’s a refusal to talk seriously about what’s been taken, there’s only a willingness to talk about what the future needs.” Gates discussed his sculptural practice, misconceptions about his work, and upcoming projects. “I want sculpture to do more,” he said. “I want art to do more. I want people to do more. Do more.”