• Home Catalog: Isaac Lin

    Isaac Lin is an artist based out of Philadelphia who has created three tapestries for us for our Home Catalog 2012.  We caught up with him to talk about the ideas behind the tapestries, what his workspace looks like, and which artist influence him the most.

    Introduce yourself!
    Isaac Tin Wei Lin. I am an American Born Chinese from Philadelphia, PA. I live in South Philly and make paintings and drawings in my studio near Chinatown. Sometimes I work at the Institute of Contemporary Art, packing and unpacking the art and getting the galleries ready for the next show. I make a living between being an art prepper, freelance work, and selling art. I am represented by Fleisher Ollman Gallery here in Philadelphia.

    Tell us about the tapestries you made for us.
    Rumble is originally an 8 x 10" painting UO chose to enlarge for the tapestry. The painting shows a pile of abstract shapes, a Phillies "P", and two dog heads wearing hats. The abstract shapes are sort of like piles of debris in an empty lot, construction site or ruins from some ancient civilization. The dogs with hats are like spirits of the past present or future that occupy that sort of space. I used complementary colors so they would sort of vibrate. The background is a hazy red to contrast the graphic green lines but the haziness is also something I use to convey a bleak landscape.
    Rumble Art Tapestry

    Focus is a 18 x 24" screen print I made for the Megawords Mural I made in 2008. It was chosen by UO to be enlarged for the tapestry project. I have used this print in multiple projects as a background. It is the background for Dotski, below. I chose the colors peacock blue and fluorescent pink because of the way the colors vibrated and combined to form a lavender. I made this print from cutting up some drawings and taping them back together like Brion Gysin in order to fracture and distort the viewers ability to "read" it.
    Focus Art Tapestry

    Dotski is a cartoon cat figure I had made for my solo show One of Us at the Print Center here in Philadelphia. The tapestry is made from a photo from my installation. The show was an installation of thirteen 4' x 8' cartoon cats cut out of wood, a wall painting, twenty-six 8x10" gouache paintings and the screen print Focus wheat pasted on the floor and walls. I created a visual environment to make the viewer feel like an outsider.
    Dotski Art Tapestry

    For the patterns on the cats, I used old large abstract paintings I had made on photo backdrop paper. I cut out the shape of the cat and pasted the abstract painting to the wood. I like how cats with patterns are similar but a bit different.

    What got you started in creating tapestries?
    I usually do not make tapestries. But since the tapestry project with UO, I have been thinking more about flatness, the function of paintings, identity, communication and the vertical and horizontal relationship between viewer and object. This has led to making a series of paintings of rug designs and planetary objects.

    What other types of art do you do?

    Sometimes some sculptures. I like taking pictures and I have ideas for some video and performance projects that I hope to get to in the near future. I am working on two new zines: a black and white DFW zine and an AAM zine with my friend Clark Mizono.

    How would you describe your style?
    DFW. Flat. Indecipherable. Personal.

    What does your workspace look like? What would we find in it?
    My studio is 385 square feet, with 13ft high ceilings and it does not have any windows. I was one of the first people to move into a studio space on my floor. It is cheaper and the landlord built my studio bigger than what we had planned but is charging me the original price we agreed on. He's pretty cool. I had to build a 12 x 24' wall in front of a stucco wall so that I could have more space to work on multiple projects at the same time. I like to keep my space clean and organized so that I can get to work without having to look everywhere for that one thing. My walls are covered with remnants of old paintings and doodles but it's nice to do what I want in my own space. I like being able to write, draw, and spray paint on my walls. It is comforting. 

    Where did your interest in art begin?

    My interest in art began when I was pretty young. I remember the Alexander Calder mobile at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., and prints of Matisse's cut-outs my mother gave me hanging by my bed.

    Who are some of the artists who influence you the most?
    Well, right now I am reading Keith Haring's journals, which have been very inspirational learning about what formed his ideas and world view. I am interested in learning more about Stuart Davis, Jean Dubuffet, Carl Jung, Isidore Isou, Lettrism, and Brion Gysin.

    When you're not making art, what else could we find you doing?
    When I am not getting ready for a show, I will meet up with a friend for food or have them visit my studio, go check out a show, look for new things to read or music to listen to. The other day on my way back to the studio, after watching Prometheus, I stopped at PAWs at 2nd & Arch to hang out with some cats.