Mel Chin was born in Houston, Texas in 1951. Chin’s art, which is both analytical and poetic, evades easy classification. He 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 also insinuates art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility. He developed Revival Field (1989-ongoing), a project that has been a pioneer in the field of “green remediation,” the use of plants to remove toxic, heavy metals from the soil. From 1995-1998 he formed the collective, the GALA Committee, that produced In the Name of the Place, a conceptual public art project conducted on American prime-time television. In KNOWMAD, Chin worked with software engineers to create a video game based on rug patterns of nomadic people facing cultural disappearance. His film, 9-11/9-11, a hand-drawn, 24 minute, joint Chilean/USA Production, won the prestigious Pedro Sienna Award, for Best Animation, National Council for the Arts and Cultures, Chile, in 2007. Chin also promotes “works of art” that have the ultimate effect of benefiting science, as in Revival Field, and also in the recent Operation Paydirt/Fundred Dollar Bill Project, an attempt to make New Orleans a lead-safe city (see www.fundred.org.) These projects are consistent with a conceptual philosophy, which emphasizes the practice of art to include sculpting and bridging the natural and social ecology.
Chin’s work was documented in the popular PBS program, Art of the 21st Century. Chin has received numerous awards and grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, Art Matters, Creative Capital, and the Penny McCall, Pollock/Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Rockefeller and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundations, among others.
The annual Deem Distinguished Visiting Art Lecture is mae possible through a donation to the WVU College of Creative Arts from Alison and Patrick Deem of Bridgeport, W.Va.
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