PATRON is proud to present, We, Dandelions, our second solo exhibition with Chicago-based artist Soo Shin. The exhibition will open to the public on Saturday, March 5 and continues through April 21, 2022.


Whan that Aprill…
My morning wakes in a yellow head,
And I have grown so hungry for that root
I claw my way past the black rhizome.
I know it would be better to wait
for the silk web and brown glaze of September,
but I already hear the song in the frost,
and see the white juice cradled in the earth.
If I were only hungry for the night and the rose
the leaves recall,
I would be given to the lion of a different longing.
But I am a bird with no gift for easy seed, one
Already fixed in the bitter root.
Now, when these salad leaves come to rest,
I intoxicate myself with the sound
of a sacrificial wine as it tapers
down, into the dark.

-Jay Wright, Elaine’s Book (1988)

Soo Shin’s sculpture and installation-based practice emphasizes materials charged with their own poetry, such as brass, iron, cedar, and found feathers. Here Shin employs these materials often to render parts of the human body in uncertain states of transformation where the hint of a foot, leg, or forearm outline the absence of a full figure. It’s a language of objects described by their implied movements, gestures. Shin incorporates her own body in many of the casts. In this way, her work is a fragmentary self-portrait. However, this composite is not just of isolated elements of her own body, but also seeks to render the affect of a space, an experience, a personal memory. One that reaches towards a longing. Something akin to walking into the memory of a stranger.

We, Dandelions presents a new series of works that Shin created in 2021 during the Kohler Arts/Industry Residency. For the artist, dandelions become an apt metaphor for migrant peoples, figuratively pollinating a place, and at times relegated to the status of weeds. Shin, a first-generation South Korean immigrant, returns to the subject of the invisibility of immigrant labor. Within the exhibition, five brass torsos line the central axis of the floor of the gallery, punctuating the center like the connective vertebra of the spine. Each 180-pound cast presents the fingerprints of five migrant Asian female masseuses and their unique healing movements. Shin invited the masseuses to express their chosen gestures on clay bodies where the artist transformed the nimble work of their fingertips into sculptural monuments of what would otherwise be an invisible, felt labor.

Shin’s work consistently plays with conceptual and material references to permeance and impermanence, heaviness and lightness. Although many of her works are often created from heavy and enduring materials like iron and brass, there is always a nod to ephemerality. In A Breath to Memory (Lauren’s Feather), a cedar wood triangular shadow box is perched between the corner of two gallery walls. The piece invites the viewer to activate a found feather that rests in the box. By blowing through the hole located at the bottom of the box, the feather—collected by a dear friend of the artist while visiting her father’s grave—is reanimated in an attempt of remembrance.

Similarly connected to objects that allude to a sense of breath and transience, Here presents the partial outline of the artist’s feet rendered in iron and surrounded by brass casts of freeze-dried dandelions that she collected from around her studio in 2019. In a dream-like, nearly surrealist language, Shin’s work evokes references to Magritte’s The Red Model (1934), as well as the superstitions of wishfulness that accompany dandelions. Blowing the seeds off of a dandelion flower is a common act of hopeful intention, and also allows the flower to grow elsewhere. Here embodies the metaphor at the root of Shin’s practice: quiet moments, the perishable, and the invisible are transformed into intimate monuments.

The artist would like to thank the Illinois Arts Council for partially funding the production of this project.