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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 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.”

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