Rowan University Art Gallery

Mel Chin: Disparate Acts

Opening Reception: September 17th, 2014

Mel Chin: Disparate Acts

Activist artist raises awareness of political and social injustice through his art


GLASSBORO, NJ – Award-winning, internationally-acclaimed American artist Mel Chin opens the 2014-2015 season at Rowan University Art Gallery with "Disparate Acts," an exhibition that showcases the artist's diverse work through many forms and directions. The exhibit runs September 2 – November 1, 2014. An artist's lecture will be held September 17 at 5:00 p.m. in Westby Hall Room 111, followed by a reception in the gallery until 7:30 p.m.


Curated by gallery director Mary Salvante, the exhibition focuses on works that question the objectivity, reliability, and integrity of information, facts, and events when compromised and corrupted by a political, social, or cultural agenda. Chin is an activist artist and through his work he raises awareness of political and social injustices, inconsistencies, and the disparate acts of governments, regimes, and fanatical groups. Mel utilizes many methods in which to present his perspective on issues creating imagery inspired by philosophy, mythology, and poetry and infuses it with humor and irony in order to promote deeper understanding. The exhibition will traverse his process from conception to fabrication through the presentation of studies, drawings, and photographs.


Chin's art, which is both analytical and poetic, evades easy classification. He is known for the broad range of approaches in his art, including works that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork and works that conjoin cross-cultural aesthetics with complex ideas.


The artist also insinuates art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television, as a means of investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility. His "Revival Field" (started in 1989) is an ongoing project, which has been a pioneer in the field of "green remediation" (the use of plants to remove toxic, heavy metals from the soil). From 1995-1998 he formed the GALA Committee, a collective that produced "In the Name of the Place," a conceptual public art project conducted on American prime-time television. In "KNOWMAD," Chin worked with software engineers to create a video game based on rug patterns of nomadic people facing cultural disappearance. His film, 9-11/9-11 - a hand-drawn, 24-minute joint Chilean/USA production - won the prestigious Pedro Sienna Award for Best Animation from Chile's National Council for the Arts and Cultures in 2007.


Additionally, Chin promotes "works of art" that have the ultimate effect of benefiting science, as in "Revival Field," and also in the recent Operation Paydirt/Fundred Dollar Bill Project, an attempt to make New Orleans a lead-safe city (see These projects are consistent with a conceptual philosophy, which emphasizes the practice of art to include sculpting and bridging the natural and social ecology.


Born in Houston, Texas, in 1951, the artist's work was documented in the popular PBS program, Art of the 21st Century, and he has received numerous awards and grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, Art Matters, and Creative Capital, as well as the Penny McCall, Pollock/Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Rockefeller and Louis Comfort Tiffany foundations, among others. A retrospective of his work is currently traveling from the New Orleans Museum of Art to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the Blaffer Art Museum and Contemporary Art Museum, Houston, TX, and to Akron Art Museum, Akron, OH.  His work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and many others


Admission to the gallery, lecture and reception is free and open to the public. Regular gallery hours are Monday – Friday, 10 am to 5 pm (with extended hours on Wednesdays to 7 pm); and Saturday, 12 to 5 pm. For more information, call 856-256-4521 or visit


Rowan University Art Gallery is located on the lower level of Westby Hall on the university campus, Route 322 in Glassboro, NJ.


This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.