This month, on Monday, Oct. 30, the Korver Visual Arts Center will open a new exhibit featuring work by Northwestern assistant art professor Yun Shin. This display will be open in the Te Paske Gallery until Friday, Nov. 17 and will feature 14 different pieces. Shin has had her artwork displayed in the Des Moines Art Center, the Olson-Larsen gallery in West Des Moines and even multiple places in New York City, but she has brought a special display inspired by her South Korean home here to NW. The origins of these art pieces are found in her communications with her family.
“I often get a package from South Korea from my parents and there is a packing slip,” Shin said. “Whenever they send a new package they have a signature with multiple copies that is fascinating to me.”
She began to trace this signature onto sheets of carbon paper, and among various other works of art in the display will be 10 of these carbon tracings. The idea to use carbon paper came to Shin when she inherited an entire box of it.
“There was a retired professor who used to teach printmaking here at NW, and he gave me a whole box of carbon paper that he’d been using for so long, ” Shin said. “I’m just looking at it, and I start thinking, ‘What if I trace my parents’ signature?’”
The act of tracing these signatures over each other again and again is meaningful to Shin for more than merely the end product.
“The physical process and repetitiveness is the focus of the art,“ she said. “I use my hands to copy my parents’ signature,” Yun said, noting that the labor- and time-intensive process and the work are almost sacred meditation.
Professor Shin has been influenced by other process-oriented artists in her work, most significantly the German conceptual artist Wolfgang Laib. Laib has gathered pollen from hazelnut trees to use in his art every season for 30 years, and it is the time spent gathering it from tree after tree that he values, rather than just the product he ends up with.
Shin draws from Laib and other artists who are committed to the work and repetition of their art.
“As an artist I’m into repetitive work, that’s the way I remember home,” Shin said. “I am reconstructing my relationship with my family, since I am far away.”
Shin hopes that visitors will see the importance of the time and effort poured into this work.
“It’s not entertaining, not representational, so they easily can skip the process,” Shin pointed out. “Hopefully people can see what is behind [the art], the labor intensive process. And hopefully they appreciate it.”