LA artist building structure inspired by the Tower of Babel

California’s building boom may have slowed to a trickle – but not all builders have surrendered their hammers. In Claremont, an artist is building a two-story structure – inside the confines of an art gallery. KPCC’s Steven Cuevas has details.

Steven Cuevas: Kyungmi Shin stands near the top of an orange 12-ft ladder drilling a sheet of green Plexiglas into place.

Cuevas: She’s building “Babel: the Chaos of Melancholy” – a temporary installation at Pitzer College’s Nichols Gallery. Right now, it’s just a skeleton: long rails of scavenged wood, corrugated aluminum and Plexiglas that bend toward the gallery’s second story mezzanine.

Shin: Basically what I wanted to do was create this massive structure based on the Tower of Babel, but using really “shantytown” material.

Shin: It’s like this dream, ambitious reaching for the sky kind of an idea, but with material that is really available to the majority of people in the world as their only choice.

Cuevas: The tower’s “skin” will include pages torn from magazines – and colorful rice bags from Africa since Shin lives part time in Ghana. The tower will also cast a hand-painted shadow across the gallery floor.

Shin: The visual playfulness is a homage to the creativity I see so much everywhere, like people have to improvise to create a living environment and they create beautiful wallpapers from torn newspaper or magazine pages.

Cuevas: Kyungmi Shin’s “Babel: The Chaos of Melancholy” goes on public display later this month at Pitzer College in Claremont.

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