Tabor art prof wins ‘Best of Show’ at fiber focus exhibit in St. Louis

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LEFT: Shin-hee Chin?s ?Poom? fiber sculpture was the best of 325 works submitted for the St. Louis show from nine Midwest states. RIGHT: Shin-hee Chin: ?I feel this honor was an encouragement for me to continue to pursue my goal of making art to glorify (God?s name.?

Shin-hee Chin, assistant professor of art and graphic design at Tabor College, recently added to a growing list of personal accolades in the realm of contemporary art by winning ?Best of Show? at the Fiber Focus 2007 exhibit in St. Louis, Mo.

More than 125 artists living in Missouri and eight bordering states submitted 325 works for the jurors? consideration, and only 47 were selected for the exhibition, shown from Sept. 10 through Oct. 18, in the Art Saint Louis gallery.

From those 47, Chin?s linen thread statue of a woman reaching out with open arms titled, ?Poom? was judged ?Best in Show.?

?I went into this particular competition realizing that my artwork has strong Christian undertones, yet it was accepted as the best of the show,? Chin said. ?I feel that receiving this honor was an encouragement for me to continue to pursue my goal of making art to glorify (God?s) name.?

?Poom means ?with open arms? in a literal sense,? she added. ?But it signifies something more in a metaphoric sense. It represents a space that opens up, for instance, when a mother takes her skirt and cradles her baby in its drapery. It represents the openness, responsiveness, and generosity with which a female artist could approach reality.?

Chin created her winning artwork using the craft techniques of random wrapping and stitching of recycled materials, a technique she developed out of necessity as a graduate student at California State University at Long Beach.

?Back then, my choice of materials came from my limited financial resources as a housewife and student-artist, using materials from home,? she said. ?I used a variety of remnants of worn-out clothes from the family, covered with threads and stitched to create a form.?

According to her written ?Artist?s Statement,? a credo that explains her artistic philosophy, these homespun materials add a deeper meaning to her work.

?I constantly try to valorize devalued women?s labor and the women by reversing the negative insinuations associated with female domains and imbuing them with positive qualities,? she writes. ?For that purpose, I often utilize needle, thread and fabric in order to call into question the deep-seated bias that women?s work is trivial, menial, marginal and undesirable?

?Being simultaneously inspired both by feminist traditions that emphasize the female reproductive body and the liberating potential of female creativity, and by Christian spirituality that is deeply embedded in my life, I address the complex issues of the female body, creativity, motherhood, feminine identity, and art.?

Chin, who identifies herself as an evangelical Christian artist, was born into a Christian family in South Korea. Both of her grandfathers served as pastors and one of them was martyred along with 500 other priests by communists during the Korean War.

She holds a bachelor?s degree in craft and fiber arts and a master?s degree in fine arts from Hong-IK University, in Seoul, South Korea. She also holds a master?s degree in fiber arts from California State University Long Beach.

Chin applies her deep, faith-based approach to art when teaching classes in drawing, painting, basic design and 3D design at Tabor College.

?I relish the opportunity to teach at Tabor, where I can educate the future generation of Christian artists,? she said. ?The most rewarding aspect of teaching for me is to see students incorporate Christian faith into their art in a creative way.?

In addition to the Fiber Focus 2007 exhibit, Chin?s works have been shown in more than 50 group exhibits, solo exhibits, and juried shows throughout the United States and South Korea.

In addition to Fiber Focus, Chin?s works were shown this summer at prestigious exhibits in Massachusetts, Washington, Minnesota, and Kansas City, Mo.

Chin completed a commissioned work this summer entitled, ?The Lord?s Prayer? (175 inches by 68 inches) for the main lobby at Bethel Church in Ellicott City, M.D.

She is working on a project titled, ?President and First Lady,? in which she portrays the faces of 44 presidents of the United States and their wives in two fiber panels. The work will be submitted to a juried national art show.

In August, Chin became one of nine artists nominated for the 2008 Lillian Elliott Award, one of the most prestigious international awards to artists creating original work in fiber.

The winner will be announced at the Textile Society of America?s Eleventh Biennial Symposium 2008, in Honolulu, Hawaii.

?Regardless of the final result, I am honored to be nominated as a candidate for this award,? she said.

In conjunction with the 100th anniversary of Tabor College at Homecoming 2008, Chin?s work will be on display on campus at the Historic Church. Included will be a new portrait with 36,500 knots, representing one knot for every day of the 100-year history of the college.

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