Visiting Artist Lecture- Mel Chin
Feb. 7, 2012
When I first walked into the auditorium I thought that it was going to go by so slow, but to my surprise, it didn't. Chin had me hooked in the first five seconds. He walked up to the stage and took the microphone in his hand then ran to the middle of the stage and started to sing an Elvis Presley song. Everyone began to laugh then a crowd of people all stood up and threw bananas at him. I was so confused, but then he began his opening and surprisingly it was about bananas.
The first thing I began to notice about Mel Chin was how much he cared about the society. Near the end a lady asked him if he studied science because he knows so much about the environment, pollutions, and many more science related topics. He said he was never a scientist. But he stated, "When it's something that you love and you base your entire existence on that one thing, then you want to learn about it and be able to discuss it with people who do know something about it." That really caught my attention. We tend to forget that art is so important. It's great to make a piece of art on just how you feel, but to make a piece of art based on something more important than ourselves is much more powerful and meaningful.
Mr. Chin went through plenty of his art works. His meanings ranged from the presidents, to planets, to the environment, to our soldiers in Iraq, and even to past wars and poverties. He has also used many mediums for his work. Most of his work was sculpture, but he also painted, animated, created lingere, and even sang as a form of his art. He sang a song to depict the soldiers that were coming home from Iraq and Afganistan that were overdosing on prescription pills and dying in their sleep. He would sing the song in a different voice trying to make you feel part of the life of that soldier.
Something that happened to him really made me learn a new lesson for my Ipc course. He made a depiction of Pluto the planet after doing a lot of research. He later found out that his work was being depicted as an african tribe leaders helmet. He says that he called up the man giving the tours and told him thank you. Chin used a name very close to an african term that was common and he did not think about it at the time. He said that next time he will be more careful.
One piece I found interesting was a piece he did on beauty of women. He took the lingere of magazines that were defined as beautiful and then he looked at other places around the whorl to see what they defined as beauty. He later decided to try to put the signs of beauty into something ugly, like the turtles he was interested in at the time. so he created a turtle shell covered with the dainty thin material of lingere with those printed images of beauty on it. Its turns out it wasn't so beautiful. What Chin realized was that he spent so much time on this piece of work, which I believe he considered a failure, he didn't see the number one thing he should have noticed. The turtle, the turtle he based his piece on is on the verge of extinction. He wants to go and do more research into that.
Mel Chin ended on giving us a pitch. There is a fundraiser called "fundreds." They are fake hundreds that children around the United States are drawing and sending in to help the city of New Orleans lead levels decrease. If they can raise up to 300 million fundreds then the government will match that with real hundreds to match the 300 million. News reports state that if this project works in New Orleans then Congress may help the rest of the country as well. They need all of the help they can from all over the country. Hopefully New Orleans will see change soon.
I am very happy that I got to go see Mel Chin speak. There was really nothing that happened that I didn't like. I really liked the art work and the artist. It was continuously interesting to me. He kept me on my feet the entire time. I also loved that he is an artist that can do almost anything. I hope that one day I will be able to do the same.