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Pillow Talk - Mixed Media

Pillow Talk (I Had a Dream Series)
Mixed media

Breakdown in Communication - Mixed Media

Breakdown in Communication (I Had a Dream Series)
Mixed media

Bible Belt (I Had a Dream Series)
Mixed media

Sinners (I Had a Dream Series)
Mixed media

Icky Sickly Pillows (I Had a Dream Series)
Mixed media

Afghani burqa and U.S. military issue straps, 2006

Hydraulic cement, cotton, foam, and wood, 2006

Domestic Device (A Handsome Dowry)
Clay and cardboard box, 2007

This Land is My Land
Southern Choice Fescue, wood, and synthetic hair, 2006

Clay and synthetic hair, 2005

Clay and wax, 2006

Silk sachet bags, rice, and imitation blood, 2006

Sachet (detail)
Silk sachet bags, rice, and imitation blood, 2006

Kitchen Dower
Steel, found object, and synthetic hair, 2005

Body Bag
Silk fabric, fringe, and polyester fiberfil, 2006

Small Change
Bronze & paraffin, 2005

N: 296-1436. This is a Coach® Bag… The scars, scratches,veins and wrinkles are natural markings… Made in New York City, U.S.A.
Leather purse & concrete, 2005

Clay, sand, and found object, 2007

Silk fabric, clay, fringe, polyester fiberfil, 2007

Sleep Well Done
Ceramic and found object, 2006

About the Artist

Ms. Chinn earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Kentucky in 1994 and a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1998 from Southern Illinois University. Her work has been included in several group and solo exhibitions in the region and nationally. The Dowry series was produced in fulfillment of an Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women which was awarded to the artist in 2002. Ms. Chinn has been featured in national art journals including Sculpture, Fiber Arts, and the Art Now Gallery Guide. Currently, she is the co-owner of The Atelier, a sculpture studio and custom metal shop in downtown Lexington, and is teaching sculpture at UK.


Artist's Statement

As artist Suzanne Lacy once claimed, "Art is a potential link across differences. It can be constructed as a bridge among people, communities, even countries." I believe my work to be capable of expanding social experience. As an artist, I feel it is my role, however humbly, to broach humanity—and use sculpture as a sort of social engineering. The works I created for the Dowry series, like earlier works, are an aesthetic marriage of materials, techniques, ideas, and associations that ultimately act as instruments for provoking thought. A singular work can be a forum for critical awareness. It can be the impetus for more complicated ways of thinking about ourselves and the world in which we live.

The Dowry series was produced in fulfillment of the Artist Enrichment Grant I received from the Kentucky Foundation for Women in 2005. What began as an innocent exploration of materials in the studio, evolved into a much deeper, somewhat darker, investigation. The initial idea for the work came about as I was throwing slabs and hand-building clay “sacs” or “pouches.” My preoccupation with language surfaced and the word “dowry” came to mind. Eventual inquiry into the definition and the practice of dowry gave way to work that began to examine particular and rather complex issues of culture, gender, and basic human rights. Some of the first pieces have been left out of the exhibition because as my understanding of dowry changed, so did the work. Empty hand-built clay bags have been exchanged for mixed media sculptures that better represent my meditation on dowry in countries such as India, China, Iran, and Afghanistan and the dire consequences, namely death, faced by many women affected by its practice.

This work is not intended to be political, though the nature of the subject matter might suggest otherwise. Nor did I set out to create work that is culturally egocentric claiming that Western traditions are right and others are wrong. The works in the Dowry series rather suggest moments of realization for me, an artist, a woman, an American, and go further to pose questions. The goal is to provoke thoughts about culture, identity, and the value of human life—things that are not always easily grasped. This series will hopefully convey to those viewing it a complex opinion of the world around them while simultaneously presenting works that are aesthetically pleasing and economic in form.

The Dowry works act as a physical communion between me, the subject matter, the material and the process, and serve as reminders of the unbreakable link between culture and identity. My aim is to confront the practice of dowry through ceramic and mixed media sculpture, where each piece assumes a unique personality and tells a different story according to its materials, shape, and projected demeanor. My interest is not in creating exact images of women affected by dowry, but to create forms whose textures, materials, scale, and suggestion of functionality engender individual identities—as if I were composing lives out of the materials at hand.

These works have a human scale, a symmetrical and sometimes metaphoric reference to anatomy, and are more representing abstract issues of identity and individual freedom rather than being absolute. They are symbols, perhaps artifacts, that merely suggest the fear, vulnerability, and devastation faced by women who may face being murdered by their husbands and in-laws, covered in wax and burned in “accidental kitchen fires,” or commit suicide due to dowry.


Scroll down to view more work by Ms. Chinn

Steel, horse hair, and linen

Untitled (basket)
Aluminium and sisal

Felt, steel, leather, and found objects

Steel cable and wood

Mi Nu Do
Synthetic hair, metal, and fan

N.Y., N.Y.
Steel and horse hair

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