Exhibitions - All Over the Place

Mel Chin
All Over the Place

04.08.18 – 08.12.18

An elderly Chinese-American man stands in a room with hardwood floors and dark grey walls. The view of him is framed by two large, iridescent globes that are covered by black, gridded lines. He is wearing a black suit, that fits his body loosely, a white dress shirt, and glasses.

Image: Mel Chin, Sea to See, installation view, 2014. Courtesy Mint Museum of Art/Mel Chin Studio.

Mel Chin: All Over the Place, presents a multi-location exhibition with exciting manifestations of the work of Mel Chin co-produced by the Queens Museum and No Longer Empty. The exhibition spans nearly four decades of Chin’s malleable and wide-ranging approach to artistic practice. Exhibition sites in New York City include the Queens Museum, Times Square, and the Broadway-Lafayette subway station.


The objects and project artifacts in All Over the Place are organized around the thematic strands that have long preoccupied Chin’s thinking, including the natural environment, socioeconomic systems and injustice, the weight of lamentations as well as the lightness of humor to reveal truths. Botany, ecology, and oceanography are examples of the disciplines that intersect in the artist’s politically charged work and demonstrate how art can promote social awareness and responsibility and reanimate curiosity. Select works highlight Chin’s engagement of multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork in order to posit community-based solutions to ecological and sociopolitical crises. As a result of such teamwork, Chin’s work challenges the idea of the artist as the exclusive creative force behind an artwork.


All Over the Place debuts four newly commissioned projects, Flint Fit, SoundtrackUnmoored, and WakeFlint Fit, an ambitious, boundary-breaking project, consists of a complex triangulation of places and processes. Flint Fit is envisioned as applying the strengths of places, as an action in the face of crisis, connecting New York City; Flint, Michigan; and Greensboro, North Carolina in time, function, and fashion. In Flint, the water is contaminated with lead, and residents must use bottled water for cooking, washing, and drinking, creating countless, constantly accumulating empty plastic vessels. At Chin’s instigation, over 90,000 used water bottles were collected by the people of Flint, and sent to Unifi, Inc, a textile manufacturer in Greensboro, North Carolina where they were shredded and made into fabric. Michigan-born, New York-based fashion designer Tracy Reese designed a capsule collection made from this fabric, with a focus on rain gear and swimwear. The garments were then sewn by women sewing their way back into the workforce at the St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center back in Flint. These designs debuted in a fashion event at the exhibition opening and are displayed at the Queens Museum’s Watershed Gallery.


In a major partnership with Times Square Arts, two works by Chin have been commissioned. Unmoored is planned as a spectacular, surreal phenomenon pushing Mixed Reality to fill the skies above Times Square. It is a work to engender a moment of awe, with a glimpse into an imperiled future. A parallel work, Wake, commissioned by the Times Square Alliance, is a presence evoking the hull of a shipwreck crossed with the skeletal remains of a marine mammal bleached by erosion and time. A larger-than-life ship’s figurehead based on Jenny Lind, the superstar of the 19th century, surveys the air above her. While offering a shift from the frenetic energy of the city, these works evoke the city’s triumphs, its grave dark past, and create and a place for contemplation.


Soundtrack is a new work of collaborative sound art initiated by Mel Chin with project curator Jace Clayton (aka DJ /rupture). Five local musicians will transform field recordings from the routes of the 1, 5, 7, E and F trains into compositions that bridge the mechanical and the human.


All Over the Place is curated by Manon Slome, Co-Founder and Chief Curator of No Longer Empty, and Laura Raicovich.


Mel Chin (b. 1951, Houston, TX) is a conceptual artist is known for the broad range of approaches in his art, including works that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork and works that conjoin cross-cultural aesthetics with complex ideas. Chin received a B.S. from Peabody College, Nashville, TN. His work has been widely exhibited nationally, and internationally, including at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN; Menil Collection, Houston, TX; Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York, NY; The Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, PA; Swarthmore College, Philadelphia, PA; Station Museum, Houston, TX; Frederieke Taylor Gallery, New York, NY; Museum Het Domein, Sittard Netherlands; Thomas Rehbein Galerie, Cologne, Germany; The Nave Museum, Victoria, TX; Asheville Art Museum, Asheville, NC; and New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, LA, among others. Chin has received many grants and awards, including those from National Endowment for the Arts, The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Creative Capital, New York Foundation for the Arts, Joan Mitchell Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, among others, and several honorary doctorates. Chin lives in Egypt Township, North Carolina.


Mel Chin: All Over the Place is made possible in part by lead support from the Henry Luce Foundation and Ford Foundation. Major support is provided by Sarah Arison, Agnes Gund, The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation, Ann and James Harithas, Ellen and Bill Taubman, The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston, Annette Blum, Suzanne Deal Booth, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo and the Dorothea Leonhardt Fund at the Communities Foundation of Texas, Inc., Matthew Cushing, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Thomas Pascal Will Robinson, and an anonymous donor. Additional support is provided by Fairfax Dorn and Marc Glimcher, and Ursula von Rydingsvard. Special thanks to ATD Audio Visual, Wyndham Garden Long Island City, and Standard Pest Management.


We gratefully acknowledge the participation of those who made Flint Fit possible: Tracy Reese, Unifi/REPREVE, St. Luke N.E.W. Life Center (Sister Carol Weber, Tina Robbins, Tameka Davis, and all of the incredible women in the Commercial Sewing program), and Matrix Expedited. Exhibition mannequins generously provided by Ralph Pucci International.


Wake is commissioned by Times Square Arts. Unmoored is presented in partnership with Times Square Arts, and has been developed in collaboration with Microsoft. Special thanks to University of North Carolina at Asheville, Unmoored producers Listen, Jaros, Baum & Bolles Consulting Engineers, and Candice Strongwater.


The Signal Rededication Ceremony is supported in part by Humanities NY. We gratefully acknowledge the participation of those who made the Signal Rededication Ceremony possible: G. Peter Jemison, AMERINDA, Kenkeleba House, and Open Engagement.


Additional thanks to Mel Chin Studio including Exhibition Coordinator Audrey Zhuoer Liu, Helen Nagge, Amanda Wiles, Barron Brown, Severn Eaton, Dallas Moore, Mason Darling, and Ian Brownlee.


Visual identity and design for Mel Chin: All Over the Place by LOT-EK.


Exhibitions at the Queens Museum receive significant support from Ford Foundation and the Charina Endowment Fund. Major funding for the Queens Museum is generously provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, Lambent Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.