One of the new additions to the Circus Posterus artist roster, Shing Yin Khor or Sawdust Bear, has a show opening this weekend at Leanna Lin’s Wonderland, and we(Kathie and Brandt) took the opportunity to throw some questions at her.
We’ve seen her hungry, we’ve seen her drunk, and now we all get to see her talk a lot!
(editor’s note: Shing also edits the Circus Posterus blog; all self deprecating comments are her own. er, this is Shing’s own note. Ugh, third person.)
CP: Please tell us about your educational background and creative journey. Did your parents talk you into getting a real job or were you smart enough at a young age to figure out how to best fund your creative alter ego?
Shing: Well, it’s… diverse. My degrees are in Technical Theatre and English, where I focused on scenic design and medieval literature. Then I went to grad school for scenic design, which I quit halfway through in a blaze of “artistic differences.” I learned how to sculpt, paint, draft, build, weld, mold, cast in theatre; I can fabricate all sorts of weird things, but the hard part was getting things together cohesively enough to have any sort of an artist’s statement. That part came organically, as I started to pursue a varied slate of interests and went through a quarter-life crisis state of trying to figure out who I was. Basically, I just didn’t have anything to say, until I did, and now I won’t shut up.
My parents – they’re very supportive. They just wanted me to be good at something, even though they have never hesitated to tell me when my work sucks. If I had been a lousy artist, I am certain they would have insisted I go into computer engineering. We compromised on the English major, which was an “at least you can teach high school” option. They are both artists too (Mom’s always been, she works with clay and bronze. Dad took up painting and woodworking in retirement). I very clearly get my love of experimenting from them. My mom randomly texts me things like “I built a gas kiln in the backyard today!” Fortunately, they’re a bit more competent and safer than I tend to be; I haven’t gotten a message like “your mom blew up the garden with her gas kiln” yet.
CP: Did the Center for Otherworld Science come to you in a dream or were you in a sweat lodge? For the unintoxicated collectors out there, can you explain this concept?
Shing: The Center for Otherworld Science has been evolving in different forms and into different names since I was…10? When it first started, it was a straight rip off of Brian Froud’s Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book and Wil Hugyen and Rien Poortvliet’s Gnomes (so much of my work still owes a debt to those books, I think). When I was 14, it expanded to being a research institution that investigated mermaids, fairies, gargoyles, other mythical creatures. There were a lot more fantasy tropes mixed in there when it first started out, because y’know…I was a huge nerd. Well, I still am.
I’ve always loved monsters, so it was logical to bring them under the Center for Otherworld Science umbrella when I started sculpting them. They were meant to be props, basically just the work product of the Center. I started filling out the narrative around it a few years ago, with the intention of working it into a novel, but the response to the artwork was more than I had anticipated. Now, I just try and write bits of it when I find time.
Basically, the Center for Otherworld Science is the “heart” of most of my work, and encapsulates most of my themes. I don’t think my work is quite so much about weird little critters, than it is how they got to the point where they are preserved and displayed for all to see. It’s about what humans do to them, especially at the Center – we preserve them, we stuff them, we record possibly inaccurate things about them. So, it might sound like a cute idea, the Center for Otherworld Science, but there’s a lot of well intentioned, but very fallible, human beings behind it all, and they do bad things to these fairly hapless critters. The unseen people of the Center for Otherworld Science are sinister because they’re kind of clueless about the whole new world they’ve stumbled upon – they’re the bumbling backbone of my world. God, humans are assholes!
To see the rest of the awesome interview, click more.