In the midst of a career that includes exhibits in the Hammer Museum and the New Museum, Candice Lin, one of Los Angeles’ premier contemporary artists, brings her interdisciplinary sculpture and installation practice to Occidental’s campus.
Candice Lin is the 2018–2019 Wanlass Artist in Residence. Funded by the Wanlass family, the program began in 2012 and provides an opportunity for high-profile contemporary artists from the Los Angeles art scene to teach and expose the Occidental community to a new way of thinking about art. As part of the residency, Lin is teaching the “Interspecies Entanglements in the Queen’s Closet” course and will have an exhibition of her work on campus in the spring.
The Wanlass Artist in Residence program is a reflection of the opportunity available to Occidental students by being at one of the only liberal arts colleges in a global city, according to professor Eric Frank, chair of the art and art history departments.
Lin was selected through a collaborative process by Oxy Arts and the art and art history departments.
“What we always look for is an artist with a reputation in the contemporary art field who is strong and growing, [has] a breadth of conceptual influences and are at a point in their careers [where] they are available for teaching a 15-week course and then also doing an exhibition,” Director of Oxy Arts Meldia Yesayan said.
Lin’s recognition as a key fixture in the Los Angeles art scene makes her an asset to students hoping to learn about being a professional artist, according to Frank.
“In Candice’s case, she’s currently in the Hammer Museum’s exhibition that features LA artists that the curatorial staff believes are artists that are important to the future,” Frank said. “So, she’s teaching this course for us, and then she’ll have an exhibition in the spring. Along with our regular faculty, Candice offers this other kind of professional expertise to the students.”
Lin is a graduate of Brown University and the San Francisco Art Institute. She uses a research-based practice that explores the histories of materials used in her creations of installation art, sculpture, drawings and video art.
“[My work] maybe animates some of those histories that we don’t know about those materials,” Lin said. “And set them into imaginative or speculative new ways of relating to those histories of those materials.”
Lin’s interdisciplinary practice is a good fit for the liberal arts experience, according to Megan Chandramouli (senior).
“[Lin’s] practice is very liberal artsy, in the sense that it’s interdisciplinary,” Chandramouli said. “She’s very interested in science and how science can help explain things in art, and how art can influence the way we think about science.”
One element of Lin’s work this semester is incorporating a community-based learning component into her course. Lin hopes to introduce her students to the Los Angeles community of working contemporary artists by bringing different artists into the studio and taking the class on ample field trips. Chandramouli, who is enrolled in the course and also serves as Lin’s education in action facilitator through Occidental’s Center for Community Based Learning, said that through “Interspecies Entanglements in the Queen’s Closet” students participate in a reciprocal relationship where students and visiting artists can actively engage with each other.
“The purpose of Community Based Learning and Research courses is to create meaningful relationships between Oxy students and community partners, where both groups benefit from their shared work,” Chandramouli said. “[Interspecies Entanglements in the Queen’s Closet], we are learning about and taking part in the practices of many Los Angeles based artists, which exposes students to the artistic community of Los Angeles as well as provides publicity or recognition for the visiting artists.”
The Wanlass Artist in Residence is Lin’s first teaching residency, although she has taught art in various capacities for seven years, including at UCLA, UC Riverside and Pomona College. On the first day of Lin’s “Interspecies Entanglements in the Queen’s Closet” students urinated in cups and smelled each other’s urine as a practice to view materials in an alternative way, according to Chandramouli.
“In our group discussion, we talked about how hard it was to describe pee using formal qualities and in ways that aren’t normally associated with pee,” Chandramouli said. “The purpose of the activity was to recognize that our assumptions about materials can inhibit us from understanding them and utilizing them in different ways. We also discussed how people are not always aware of their materials’ origins and how they might think of them differently if they came straight from the source.”
Although not every student may have the opportunity to experience a class with the artist, Lin said that she believes that fine arts are important to the human experience.
“I think [the fine arts] are a way to be engaged with social issues that are important,” Lin said. “Thinking about how our actions and our bodies are entangled within the social, which includes other species like plants, animals and materials. I think what art helps us do is think about those relationships in a way that’s not necessarily critical, but a little more thoughtful, instead of taking it for granted as something that’s neutral and there in the world.”
Lin’s residence will culminate in an exhibition of her work at the Weingart Gallery in the spring.