Jean Shin: FALLEN

When 2 May 2021 - 31 Oct 2021
Where Olana State Historic Site
5720 State Route 9G,
Hudson, NY 12534
United States

When the artist Frederic Church created Olana’s 250-acre naturalistic landscape, he planted thousands of native trees on a hillside that had been previously logged and deforested. His plantings included the eastern hemlock tree (Tsuga canadensis), a graceful native conifer that once thrived on the slopes of the nearby Catskill Mountains. In the 19th century, hundreds of thousands of hemlocks were cut down for the tanning industry, which used the tannin in the tree’s bark for the commercial demands of leather-making.

The devastating loss of these evergreen forests would have been visible from Olana’s hilltop. With an artist’s eye toward the cycles of nature, Church would also include fallen trees in his paintings. Sketches can be found in Olana’s extensive collection.

“But I like wood for architectural purposes less and less as I get older…Wood is awfully convenient and cheap just now but I suppose when our forests are swept away by the axe and fire – we will use more stone – and tiles instead of shingles. The clapboard palaces will rapidly disappear…”
Frederic Church in a letter to Erastus Dow Palmer, 1884

The eastern hemlock tree on Olana’s East Lawn died of natural causes last year, after attempts by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation to save it. It stood high amidst new native plantings, which were installed to complete the first project in Olana’s award-winning Strategic Landscape Design Plan. As a part of an ongoing commitment to engage contemporary artists at Olana, The Olana Partnership has commissioned the nationally-renowned artist Jean Shin to create a site-specific work in response to the loss of this hemlock tree.

FALLEN will invite viewers to reflect on this tree’s life and the cultural history of this region. Jean Shin’s finished work will be on view in this location from May 2 through October 31, part of our larger 2021 collaborative exhibition, Cross Pollination: Heade, Cole, Church, and Our Contemporary Moment. Please visit again as this artwork develops.

“While reckoning with the devastating consequences of deforestation in local history, the project invites viewers to observe the natural surroundings more closely, witness nature’s struggles, and mourn what we have lost.“ says artist Jean Shin.

This is a work-in-progress, and we ask that you refrain from touching or climbing on this tree. This installation will also be accompanied by a mapping project which identifies the remaining hemlock trees within Olana’s 250-acre landscape.


Artist Jean Shin transforms large accumulations of everyday objects, the material manifestations of waste in our society, into site-specific installations. These discards reveal capitalism’s excess in an increasingly unsustainable reality and the ecological collapse produced by our consumer-driven culture. Giving new life to these overlooked materials, Shin recalls an object’s past and suggest its significant connection to our collective memories, desires, and failures.

Nationally recognized for her monumental installations, Shin transforms everyday objects into elegant expressions of identity and community engagement. She has had numerous solo exhibitions at prestigious institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA and Storm King Art Center in N.Y. More than 150 prominent cultural institutions, including the New Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Asia Society, Barnes Foundation, and Museum of Art and Design, have featured her work.

As an accomplished artist practicing in the public realm, Shin has received large-scale commissions, permanent installations from major public federal and city agencies. She recently completed a landmark commission for the MTA’s Second Ave Subway at the 63rd Street station in Manhattan. Shin has received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, Asian Cultural Council Fellowship, NYFA Fellowships, among others. Major publications such as Art in America, Sculpture Magazine, and the New York Times have written about her work.

Born in 1971 in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in the United States, Jean Shin lives and works in Brooklyn and Hurley, NY. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1999 and received a B.F.A. and a M.S. from Pratt Institute. Shin is a tenured Adjunct Professor of Fine Art at Pratt and a recipient of Pratt’s 2017 Alumni Achievement Award. She serves on the Board of National YoungArts Foundation and is President of the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

For more information please click here.
Image courtesy of the event organizer.