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Artist threads worldview into her work

By KELLY CHUNG DAWSON  (China Daily)

15:29, November 02, 2012

After eight years in New York City, artist Lin Tianmiao returned to Beijing in 1995 and settled into domestic life.

Surrounded by the trappings of motherhood and a home that felt new again, Lin, then in her mid-30s, wrapped string around household objects in what would become her signature technique. The result was her first major work, The Proliferation of Thread Winding, which launched her career. Today she's one of a few female Chinese artists with international name recognition.

This fall Lin returns to New York as the subject of the Asia Society's Bound and Unbound exhibit (open through January 2013), her first big solo showing in the United States. In 1998, she was part of the society's Inside Out New Chinese Art, a survey of contemporary Chinese works including those of avant-garde artists. Lin also has had exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum.

In installations such as Bound and Unbound (1997), for which the current show is titled, Lin's thread-winding is applied to nearly 800 objects — kitchen utensils, cooking pots, kettles and so on. An accompanying film depicts a pair of scissors chopping at hanging threads.

"I have used thread in my work from the very beginning," the artist says. "It became one of my habits. I find that its linear expression is very dynamic, so I have continued to use and did not abandon the technique."

The technique itself is a statement, says Melissa Chiu, director of the Asia Society Museum and the exhibit's curator.

"The physical act of thread-winding is incredibly monotonous," Chiu says. "And yet it creates something beautiful. She works with what is around her to create something truly new."

Although much of Lin's work centers on women's issues, the artist doesn't necessarily identify as a feminist, Chiu says.

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