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Jean Shin responds to an ongoing revitalization project at Storm King to present a site-specific installation
Jean Shin, Process documentation for Allée Gathering, 2019. Recycled maple wood and steel. Dimensions variable. Courtesy the artist. Photo: Jerry L. Thompson.

MOUNTAINVILLE, NY.- Storm King Art Center presents Outlooks: Jean Shin, on view from May 4 to November 24, 2019. Artist Jean Shin responds to an ongoing revitalization project along Storm King’s historic Maple Allée, working with salvaged maple trees to create a monumental, communal picnic table, approximately fifty feet in length. She will also tap trees for sap and make maple syrup, which will be offered at tastings throughout the season. The exhibition marks the seventh iteration of Storm King’s ongoing Outlooks exhibition series, which invites an emerging or mid-career artist to create a new, site-specific work to be installed on-site for a single season. Outlooks: Jean Shin is organized by Storm King’s Senior Curator Nora Lawrence.

Storm King has a long history of environmental stewardship and continues to invest in initiatives that support biodiversity and increase resiliency throughout its site. This year, as part of this broader ecological program, 24 maple trees have been replaced with black gum (Nyssa sylvatica) trees, which are better suited to withstand Storm King’s changing climate and ground conditions.

Titled Allée Gathering, Shin’s project is a tribute to the Art Center’s beloved Maple Allée and offers a new, communal place for visitors to come together in conversation to observe and reflect upon the changing landscape. The new black gum trees have been planted along the Allée, replacing the maple trees. The original maple tree stumps will remain in place for the duration of the exhibition, visually marking the landscape’s transition.

The project connects the individual maple trees along the Allée into a continuous, horizontal tabletop surface with accompanying benches. Shin constructed the work using slabs of timber created from the remains of each tree trunk, which exposes the trees’ inner cores while revealing—and rendering aesthetic—any signs of damage. Transformed and presented in this horizontal orientation, the trunks of these maple trees have been painstakingly preserved into a site-specific work commemorating the transformed Allée and its history. At the same time, Allée Gathering brings attention to the landscape, to the constant changes that often go unnoticed, and to the challenging, labor-intensive work required to protect our natural environments.

Working closely with the curatorial, education, and operations staff at Storm King, Shin’s site-specific project will unfold in multiple stages across the Art Center’s 500 acres. In addition to the Allée where Shin’s installation has been sited, Storm King’s grounds are home to many sugar maples trees in various states of health, which the artist has tapped for sap water. By engaging in the process of maple syrup production, the project preserves the taste of Storm King’s maple trees. Tasting samples throughout the season will give visitors the opportunity to examine each tree’s sugar levels and consider the local landscape’s sweetness from the perspective of their own palette.

Through these tastings, as well as art making activities, conversations and seatings held at the communal table, visitors will be able to engage with Shin’s project in various ways. Reclaiming what was lost, Allée Gathering celebrates the intersection of art, nature, and community, while acknowledging their vulnerabilities and contingent relationships.

Nora Lawrence, Storm King’s Senior Curator, remarks, “Outlooks projects have often drawn inspiration from Storm King’s physical site, and Allée Gathering engages with a particularly essential piece of the landscape’s history. We’re thrilled to present Jean Shin’s project, which exemplifies the power of art as it relates to our understanding of both nature and the world.”

“By using the remnants of the maple trees that had been the heart of Storm King’s landscape, I wanted to preserve as much of this wood in an artwork while also creating a gathering place to reflect on the changing landscape and nature’s impermanence,” said Shin.

The Outlooks series allows Storm King to support individual artists, a critical piece of the Art Center’s mission. Prior Outlooks exhibitions at Storm King featured works by Elaine Cameron-Weir (2018), Heather Hart (2017), Josephine Halvorson (2016), Luke Stettner (2015), Virginia Overton (2014), and David Brooks (2013).

Jean Shin is recognized for her monumental installations that transform everyday objects into elegant expressions of identity and community engagement. Her work has been widely exhibited in over 150 major museums, and cultural institutions including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC, Museum of Fine Art Houston, and Barnes Foundation. In recognition of excellence, she has received numerous awards including two New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships, Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, among others. She is a tenured Professor of Fine Arts at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY.

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