Jean Shin at Cristin Tierny (NY)

Gallery artist Jean Shin has a solo show, Surface Tension, opening at Cristin Tierny Gallery on February 25th.

Shin is nationally recognized for her monumental installations that transform everyday objects into elegant expressions of identity and community. In Surface Tension, she investigates the divide between public and private in urban spaces by using a material very familiar to New York City residents: the plywood walls surrounding construction sites.

At first glance, the exhibition seems comprised of a series of monolithic paintings on panel, each featuring an abstract composition modeled in subtly varied tones of blue. The panels’ beauty, however, belies their distinctive origins: they previously served as construction fencing, and their compositions are products of chance that document a dialogue between two opposing forces at work. With surfaces that have been continually painted over after every new appearance of graffiti, paper posts, and other marks, the “paintings” in Surface Tension are, in fact, found objects chronicling past erasures.

The results of this contested partnership between public expressions like graffiti and their subsequent redaction allude to the deep history of negotiating urban space. City residents, living in constantly changing environments, know this negotiation well. Construction fences abound in neighborhoods and line commutes, intervening in daily activity. Displaying these “collective paintings” in the gallery, the artist calls attention to what is often overlooked, revealing in the painted gestures the unintended byproducts of urban transformation with all of its inherent engagement and struggle.

Jean Shin attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and received a BFA and MS from Pratt Institute. Her work has been widely exhibited worldwide including solo exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, The Montclair Art Museum, and the Crow Collection of Asian Art. Her works have been featured and commissioned in over 150 exhibitions in major museums and cultural institutions such as: The New Museum of Contemporary Art; The Brooklyn Museum; The Queens Museum; The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Asia Society; SculptureCenter; and The Museum of Arts and Design.

Shin has received numerous awards, including the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Architecture/Environmental Structures and Sculpture, Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Art award. Shin’s many notable public art commissions include the General Services Administration, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and more. Her work is held in the permanent collections of The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Rose Art Museum, The Honolulu Museum of Art, The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Boise Art Museum, and The Fabric Workshop and Museum. In 2016, Jean Shin will complete a major commission for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, New York at the 63rd Street Station on the new Second Avenue Subway line. In March, she will begin a residency at Material for the Arts in Long Island City. Shin lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

For more information about the artist or available works, please email


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