Artist StatementI am lucky to have spent my formative years in a few of the now-extinct villages of Singapore. We were still using wood as fuel in 1991; four years later, commercial Internet became a reality. In college, I majored in Human Geography and Southeast Asian Studies, and minored in Chinese Studies. A corporate job took me to London, and graduate school to Baltimore and New York, where I obtained my master’s in fine art from the School of Visual Arts. I have moved across continents 15 times so far. Much of my work reflects the place(s) I have been or am in, physically or mentally. They often contain personal stories and capture significant moments in time, such as childhood memories. My late-father was a karung guni man — growing up helping him with his trade had a profound influence on my love for found and humble materials, and how I treat them.* I see possibilities in the discarded and overlooked, and poetry in the modest, delicate, fragile, ephemeral, and flawed. I am inspired by music, the built environment, lines, geometry, abstraction, and the written word. I am deeply interested in the everyday, in being more aware, paying more attention, and becoming mindful and more present. * The karung guni man is the Singapore equivalent of the 19th century rag-and-bone man in the UK, who scavenged unwanted rags, bones, metal, and other waste from the towns and cities where they lived and sold them to merchants. In America, they are called junk man, and in many developing countries, waste pickers. (more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rag-and-bone_man#cite_note-3) Karung guni is the Malay phrase for gunny/burlap sack, which was used in the past by Singapore rag-and-bone men to hold the used newspaper they collected.
Yam Chew Oh is a public relations professional turned multidisciplinary artist, educator, and writer. He holds an M.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts in New York City (NYC) and B.A.s in Geography, Southeast Asian Studies, and Chinese Studies from the National University of Singapore. Oh’s works have been exhibited and collected in NYC, Brooklyn, Harlem, Miami, Baltimore, California, and Singapore. His paintings and writing have appeared in Lumina Journal, Studio Visit, Commotion, and Velocity. Oh is Asian Contemporary Art Week's 2019 Strategic Development Fellow and Mildred's Lane Residency 2018 Fellow. He handled international media relations for the inaugural Singapore Biennale and solo photography exhibirion, Nectarpool: Love & Longing in Amritsar, managed the heritage museum and collaborative public art projects at Singapore’s oldest hospital, and was a volunteer counsellor at Action for AIDS Singaopre for five years.