Jean Shin


Undergraduate Discipline

Visual and Studio Arts

Shin is known for her sprawling and often public sculptures, transforming accumulations of discarded objects into powerful monuments that interrogate our complex relationship between material consumption, collective identity, and community engagement. Often working cooperatively within a community, she amasses vast collections of everyday objects—e.g., Mountain Dew bottles, mobile phones, 35mm slides—while researching their history of use, circulation, and environmental impact. Distinguished by this labor-intensive and participatory process, Shin’s creations become catalysts for communities to confront social and ecological challenges. Born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in the United States, she works in Brooklyn and Hudson Valley, New York. Her work has been widely exhibited and collected in more than 150 major museums and cultural institutions, including solo exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, and Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. Shin has received numerous awards, including the Frederic Church Award for her contributions to American art and culture. Her works have been highlighted in The New York Times and Sculpture Magazine, among others. Her body of work includes several permanent public artworks commissioned by major agencies and municipalities, most recently a landmark commission for the MTA’s Second Ave Subway in NYC. Before joining the faculty at Sarah Lawrence, she taught at Pratt Institute for more than 25 years and holds an honorary doctorate from New York Academy of Art. SLC, 2023–

Undergraduate Courses 2023-2024

Visual and Studio Arts

Activating Art in Public Places

Open, Seminar—Spring

The course will guide students in navigating the complexity of working in the public realm. The class explores methodologies and precedents for how artists translate their concepts, research, materials, processes, and scale into proposals for public works that respond to the needs of place and community. How can your work be in direct dialogue with its surroundings—physically, historically, and metaphorically—to activate the site? How can art mobilize the public into civic engagement, social change, and ecological repair? Through intentionality, projects engage audiences in participation, collaboration, or even disruption. Students will propose and develop a conference project with regular feedback, critique, and support from faculty and peers.


Creative Reuse

Open, Seminar—Fall

By adopting creative reuse strategies in art-making practices, we can transform everyday objects, remnants, and trash into treasures. When researching a common object’s history, its use, circulation, and disposal, we see the devastating consequences of extractive practices and overconsumption on our planetary health. How can we, instead, use our junk and leftover scraps to hold memory, tell stories, and evoke regenerative possibilities? While salvaging and repurposing materials, students explore innovative ways to infuse personal meaning, cultural significance, and ecological urgency in their artwork. The course is structured around assignments, hands-on experimentation, research, and field trips. Students will develop a conference project that gives discards a second life.


What Remains: Presenting Absence

Open, Concept—Spring

How do we notice the traces of what’s no longer here? How do surfaces and forms bear the lingering presence of human use? This course will consider the artistic and philosophical concept of absence in its many forms: vanishing, dematerialization, disappearance, nothingness, forgetting, loss, and grief. Through lectures, readings, and studio exercises, we will experiment with multiple artistic and conceptual frameworks for bearing witness to acts of removal, erasure, and temporality. The class will explore how these strategies can, in fact, bring more visibility to suppressed bodies, histories, and ecologies. Some of the artists whose works we will consider include Gordon Matta-Clark, Félix González-Torres, Ana Mendieta, David Hammonds, Doris Salcedo, Rachel Whiteread, Walid Raad, Do Hoh Suh, Danh Võ, Janine Antoni, and Stephanie Syujuco, among others.