This installation art piece by Jean Shin is titled Unraveling. Actually, it’s one of several installation pieces of the same title by Shin. Its composition intrigues me as someone deeply interested in crafts and what they say about us as individuals and as cultures.
You see, this concept has been played out in a number of cities. Washington DC, Berkeley, Houston, New York, and Honolulu have all hosted versions of this piece. In each city, it has been a new piece, unique to that place, yet universal in its intent.
As Shin took the concept from place to place, she gathered up sweaters in each of the host cities from Asian women in that community. She then silkscreened a label with the donator’s name and attached it to each sweater. Then the unraveling began. All of the sweaters remain partially intact, but the threads of them interweave to create a colorful web that binds them all together, as well. It’s meant to represent the interconnections in Asian art communities, but I think it goes beyond one culture, or even one life pursuit.
We are all individuals, and yet we are also part of a whole, no matter where we are, no matter how we choose to live our lives. It’s nice once in a while to reflect on our place as individuals, and also on our part of the whole. In a funny way, I find myself quite moved by this illustration of that universal truth.
And it couldn’t have been done without a lot of people knitting sweaters in the first place.