Tabor College
Shin-hee Chin


Artist Information for Shin-hee Chin

I constantly try to valorize devalued women’s labor and the women’s body by reversing the negative insinuations associated with female domains and imbuing them with positive qualities. For that purpose, I often utilize needle, thread, and fabric in order to call into question the deep-seated bias that women’s work are trivial, menial, marginal and undesirable. By incorporating wool, fiber, and string into the sculptural production, I convert the conventional “feminine” activity of needle works into a useful medium for the making of art. Through the strategic use of media that have been traditionally associated with the feminine, I want to show that seemingly ‘menial female work’ can be a source of pleasure and power for women.

On the level of technique and material, I appropriate and valorize craft techniques such as stitching, random wrapping, and binding. The techniques have an important meaning for me both as a compositional device and as an obsessional activity. In experimenting with a variety of “domestic” media such as clothes, threads, and paper, my hands participate in the process of the intricate linking of the irregular pattern of threads that form vein, skin, and scar. In fact, one can see the process through the complexly interwoven and intricately entangled threads covering the work.

Images scroll down to view all

Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale78" x 48"   Photo by Del Gray

Before there was not much rhyme or reason to medicine, and little credence given to the research of a woman, Florence created changes that saved lives during the Crimean War. Because of her work as a statistician and nurse, it was found that the most casualties occurred in the British army hospitals than on the field. She used her data to show the correlation between the cleanliness of the hospitals and the mortality rate, creating a chart, often called Nightingale’s rose or rose chart. Florence Nightingale cared enough about saving lives that she went to great lengths to improve conditions. In laying out her image with her rose chart, red rose, and red cross, I wish to honor her accomplishments. Also, by synthesizing the Fibonacci Spiral, I wanted to illustrate circles and squares, math and art, beautiful mind and good deeds.

Self Portrait 5

Self Portrait 538"X52"   Photo by Jim Turner

Self Portrait No. 5 poses questions about identity, both in terms of gender and ethnicity. The use of the colors red and blue in this self-portrait is significant for a few reasons. Traditionally, red and blue are assigned gender-specific roles. Red and blue are also used a great deal in flags (e.g., the United States, Great Britain, Russia, France) and are thus associated with patriotism. Korea and the United States, the two countries which define my nationality, use red and blue in their flags. I alternated stripes of red, white, and blue (America) and red, blue, white, and black (Korea) to create an image of myself. The notion of this alternating arrangement symbolizes the ethic of reciprocity: a person attempting to live by the “golden rule†treats all people well, not just members of his or her in-group. The image, like the theme, is neither defined nor readily accessible, but instead suggested. Rather, it is meant to invite questions from the viewer.


Chinmoku:Silence60" x 42"   Photo by Jim Turner

Chinmoku: Silence was inspired by the novel with the eponymous title by Endo Shusaku. Chinmoku deals with the struggles of a Jesuit monk in Japan during Kakure Kirishitan (hidden Christian), a time of active discrimination against Christians. The novel questions how far one should go in defending one’s faith, and explores one man’s pursuit of a God who - despite his silence - is always present through adversity. In Chinmoku: Silence, I wanted to replicate this quality of questing. The image is rendered in grayscale in order to represent not only silence, but also the myriad shades of gray in between black and white. Only a sheer curtain separates the girl (who is indoors) from the outside world, symbolizing disconnect between reality and the inner mind. While faith is often perceived as purely black and white, the reality is that life presents a variety of confusing gray areas. For those who continue to pursue, this can be a disillusioning experience. I appropriated ji-seung, the Korean craft of making thread from rice paper, and combined it with my own method of fabric tube-making by stitching them together.

Lake Autumn

Lake Autumn40.5"X33"   Photo by Jim Turner

Ryu, Gwan-Sun

Ryu, Gwan-Sun40" x 40"   Photo by Jim Turner

Ryu, Gwan-Sun (December 16, 1902 – October 12, 1920) was a student and organizer in what would come to be known as the March 1st Movement, known in Korean as sam-il-woon-dong, against the Japanese colonial rule of Korea. Her deep faith in God and the teachings of the Christian School (Ewha Women’s School) gave her the courage to act boldly. She planned a demonstration for independence in Cheonan where about 2,000 demonstrators shouted, “Long live Korean Independence!†During the demonstration, Ryu was arrested with other demonstrators and both her parents were killed by Japanese police. She died in prison, reportedly as the result of being tortured. In this portrait of Ryu, yellow and green are prominent as she was the leader of the grassroots movement to oust the occupiers of her country. The symbols on her left shoulder are her name in Chinese for prison identification purposes.