Monday, July 20, 2009

What Old/Castaway Object Embodies You?

I think it's cool that Jean Shin's sculptures and installations are made out of castaway objects. Her work on the right, Chemical Balance (2005), is made with prescription bottles, mirrors, and epoxy. Other sculptures are made out of broken umbrellas, old lottery tickets, worn shoes, etc. You should check out Shin's work on her website - it's really neat. I really like her Sound Wave (2007, made out of records) and Worn Soles (2001).

This month's edition of Smithsonian has an interview with Shin (to promote the show "Jean Shin: Common Threads" that is at the Smithsonian American Art Museum until this coming Sunday (July 26)). During the interview, Shin mentioned how she collects objects from people, starting with her friends and family members. The interviewer brought up the point that Shin's sculptures can be seen as group portraits. Shin mentioned how she views each object as part of an individual's history and identity, and she wants her work to "embod[y] people's lives."

I really like the idea of Shin's work as group portraits. It made me think about what kind of objects could be considered as my own portrait. I thought of all the buttons in my sewing box. They are all of the extra buttons that came with the different shirts, pants, and shorts that I have owned. Some of the clothing has been long-gone, but I've never taken any of the old buttons out of my stash. I guess if there was a Jean Shin-esque sculpture made as my portrait, it could be of buttons.

What about you? What old/castaway objects could be your portrait? What works by Shin do you like?