PULLMAN, Wash.–Internationally known artist Mel Chin opens his spring exhibition at Washington State University’s Museum of Art Monday, Feb. 9, with the 1998 John Mathews Friel Memorial Art Lecture “Imperfect Pearls in the Ether of Infinite Labor.”
Chin’s talk is set for 7:30 p.m. in the Compton Union Building Auditorium. A reception will follow in the Fine Arts Center.
Chin has received enthusiastic acclaim for his creations of finely crafted poetic objects, as well as the organization of large-scale, collaborative conceptual projects. He combines the lure of the visually provocative object with layers of multicultural and multidisciplinary references that are the result of intensive preparatory research.
Born in Houston of parents who emigrated from China, Chin’s early childhood was spent in African American and Latino neighborhoods while he absorbed Chinese philosophy and culture at home. His multicultural upbringing and expansive world view are repeatedly reflected in his work. Subjects range from ancient cosmology, mythology and iconography to contemporary international violations of human rights and scientific experiments in the reclamation of industrial wasteland.
Some of his most recently acclaimed projects include “Revival Field,” a collaboration that has pioneered the development of “green remediation”; “The State of Heaven,” a project designed to visually describe the continuous threat of ozone depletion; and “In the Name of the Place,” a collaborative venture between artists and prime-time television production.
His WSU exhibit, “Inescapable Histories,” charts Chin’s development as an artist from the 1970s to the present with particular emphasis on his work of the last 15 years. The exhibition exposes nuances in Chin’s work that have not yet been examined, such as his working processes, research methods and the humor and irony that occasionally surfaces in his work. The exhibit includes sculptures, maquettes, drawings, prints and mixed-media studies related to monumental sculptures and site-specific installations.
“Inescapable Histories: Mel Chin” is curated by Benito Huerta, a Houston artist and independent curator. A catalogue that includes essays by Huerta and art historian Lucy Lippard and a composite interview with Chin by a multidisciplinary group of artists, curators, scholars and scientists is also included with the exhibition.
Supporting the exhibit at WSU are H.S. Wright III and the WSU Visual, Performing and Literary Arts Committee. The museum exhibitions and programs are provided by WSU and the Friends of the Museum of Art. A portion of the museum’s general operating funds this year has been provided through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The exhibition, open to the public without charge, continues through March 29, but is closed during the university’s March 14-22 spring break. The museum is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tuesday from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and weekends from 1-5 p.m.

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