Prographica/KDR is pleased to debut a new series of work by Zhi Lin. This provocative body of work conveys the significant contribution of Chinese immigrants in building the Transcontinental railroad that is absent in American history literature. The exhibition will be comprised of field studies executed in Chinese ink, chronicling the histories of the Chinese immigrant workers in Seattle and Tacoma. The gallery exhibition will also include a video installation complementary to the comprehensive series on view at the Tacoma Art Museum.
The pieces, Chinese ink on paper, are records of my onsite research from California, Wyoming, and very recently in Tacoma, WA. In order to study the history of Tacoma’s expulsion of Chinese in 1885, I made over 50 trips to the city from 2016 to 2017…For these latest works, I walked on the expulsion route many times. After I discovered that 197 Chinese men, women, children, the old and sick, were herded out like animals by an armed mob from the city along the railroad track of the prairie line, I walked through the entire available length of the tracks on foot in summer and late autumn of 2017. I deliberately chose to make the walk in cold weather, because I wanted to feel the way this passage felt by those Chinese Americans on that wet and freezing day, the 3rd of November, 1885.
It was important for me to be there in bad conditions, to feel the harsh weather that is possible in the places where the tracks were built. A project about these workers cannot only be intellectual – it needs to be felt.
I believe the landscape does not have any human memory; however, the landscape in my work reminds us of the physical trials of the Chinese workers, and the brutality of Tacoma’s ethnic cleansing of Chinese. Hills, building sites, roads, railroad tracks, winds and clouds enable us to feel and retrieve the presence of the workers, follow the footsteps of a column of Chinese back to the 19th century.
-- Zhi Lin, 2017
Lin’s works are shaped by the political strife he witnessed in China during his training and his experiences as an immigrant in the U.S.(he currently lives and works in Seattle, WA). His widely-known works based on historical events depict the racism and injustice faced by immigrant workers. His latest series focuses on the construction of the Transcontinental Railroads and the memories lost and the sacrifices made by Chinese laborers. The universal message of this work parallels the ongoing struggles and histories of immigrants from many backgrounds.
Zhi Lin (b. 1959)
Zhi Lin was born in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China. He attended the China Academy of Art where he studied printmaking. He received MFA degrees from the Slade School of Fine Art in London (1989) and the University of Delaware (1992). Zhi Lin has shown his work in numerous museums in the United States, United Kingdom, and China, including the Princeton University Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology, the Oakland Museum of California, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the Frye Art Museum, the University College London Art Museum, the Cambridge University, Oxford University Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archeology, the Contemporary Arts Institute in London, the China Academy of Art Museum, the National Fine Art Museum of China and a solo exhibition currently at the Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA (June 27, 2017 – February 18, 2018).
Lin’s work is included in the collections of the Princeton University Art Museum, the Frye Art Museum, the Oxford University Ashmolean Museum, the University College London Art Museum, and the National Fine Art Museum of China in Beijing. He has exhibited with KDR since 2001. Presently, Zhi Lin is a Professor of Painting + Drawing and the Floyd and Delores Jones Endowed Professor in the Arts at the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle. He has also served on the faculty of the School of Art and the China Studies Program at UW since 2001. He currently lives and works in Seattle, WA.
Lin has been the recipient of many prestigious national and international fellowships and awards, including the Fellow in the Humanities Council and the Tang Center for East Asian Art at Princeton University, the University of Washington Royalty Research Scholar and Research Fund, Creative Capital Foundation Grant in Painting, Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Artists at Giverny France Grant, Art Matters Foundation Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Visual Artist Fellowship in Painting, NEA/Midwest Regional Artist’s Project Grant, Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship, Missouri Arts Council Visual Artists’ Biennial Grant, and Delaware State Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship.
For more information on Zhi Lin's work, please visit our affiliate gallery, Koplin Del Rio's website.