My art practice is a study and discussion about identity issues. As a Chinese man who moved across the globe to study in the U.S., I went through challenges like language barrier and cultural shock to realize, from the perspective of an immigrant, the struggle of merging into a culturally different society and how that could inspire me to analyze the issues of identity through visual languages. Therefore, I began to document my self-grooming routine, through which I visualized cultural assimilation in both charcoal and oil media. After two self-portraits of self-grooming scenes, I started to experiment with water-based medium for its fluidity, juxtaposing the representational nature of my work with an abstract way of handling the material. My thesis project consists of a diptych that originated from tiny snapshots. By blowing up small images, like an ID photo, over 100 times, forms start to take shape on their own terms, layer by layer. The image is no longer a representation of the likeness of a human being. Instead, it becomes a metaphor of a social system in which the immigrants formulate their identity by exposure, interaction, and reinvention.
- Zhi Lin, Chair (Painting + Drawing)
- David Brody (Painting + Drawing)
- Ann Gale (Painting + Drawing)
- Philip Govedare (Painting + Drawing)
- Helen O’Toole (Painting + Drawing)
Read the interview of Shuo Yin by James Harris.
Who are we? Shuo Yin’s two monumental paintings, side by side, ask this question. Portraiture has a very long history, and Yin’s diptych investigates 21st century issues. At first, the works appear steeped in nostalgia and memory. Facial details are obscured through the deliberate use of washes and inherent lack of details. You cannot help notice they are faded head shots from some form of identification. This is implied through the artist’s use of numbers, text, or a reference to a government seal. These official demarcations float on the surface and do not interfere with the human image. They intrude and classify but underneath them appears a human soul. In one, a young woman with long dark hair hauntingly stares out at you. In the other, a man with short hair and a moustache gazes directly out at you too. You feel a connection, maybe family, friends, husband and wife, we will never know. In this digital age of facial recognition, Yin’s paintings are defiantly the opposite. Through his astute handling of painting what makes us individuals (eyes, noses, cheekbones, mouth, chin), he has obfuscated through a thin veiled application of paint. His surfaces are rich with information; drips and lines, the numbers and letters that activate the surface. But it is his beautiful rendering of the individual that gives these works emotion. You feel their presence, they are unique beings, but in Yin’s hands we can only know them as part of our collective soul.
– James Harris
- Erasure and Tracking, Sand Point Gallery, 2019
- Irreducible Forms, Jacob Lawrence Gallery, 2019
- 2nd Year MFA Summer Work Show, Sand Point Gallery, 2019
- Cobblestones and Lumber: UW x SFAI, Atrium at SFAI-Fort Mason Campus, 2019
- Master of Fine Arts, Painting + Drawing, University of Washington, 2020
- Bachelor of Fine Arts, Painting + Drawing, University of Washington, 2017