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Yam Chew Oh

Yam Chew Oh


Artist Work

You’ve also been naughty lately!
Found wooden block and sculpture, LED light strip, used air bubble bag and plastic bag, and screw
Left: Approx. 38 x 12 6/8 x 15 7/8 inches;Right: Approx. 12 x 12 x 1 6/8 inches
Floating on detritus
Used plastic bag and found metal hardware
Approx. 21 5/8 x 7 x 6 1/2 inches
The karung guni man (rag-and-bone)
Found metal, used cardboard and plastic packaging
23 7/8 x 10 2/8 x 7 inches
The time bender
Used fruit packaging, Instax photo, artist tape, raffia string, and pin
19 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 3 6/8 inches
The curious quietus
Used swiss roll packaging, handkerchief, good-luck coins and socks from Teochew cremation ceremony; inflight beverage stirrer; used wine bottle sleeve; and found wooden board
Approx. 1 x 12 x 5 inches
The cradle
Used wire from funeral tent and cardboard packaging; found wooden structure, rubber tubing, plastic knob; and acrylic paint
Approx. 17 6/8 x 12 6/8 x 16 1/2 inches

Artist Information

Baltimore City
Artistic Category

Visual Arts

Artist Statement

I think about my artistic practice widely—as a visual artist, an educator, and a writer. My work in all three spheres feed off one another and shape my practice holistically. As a visual artist, my multidisciplinary practice includes drawing, painting, sculpture, assemblage, and photography. My work is heavily influenced by my formative years in multi-ethnic and multicultural Singapore, as well as the ones living and working in various countries. Much of it reflects the spaces I have been, both physically or mentally, and often capture personal stories and significant moments in time. In the last three years, I have developed a group of found material sculptures based on the ethos of my late father’s trade as a karung guni man. They privilege discarded and overlooked materials, and embrace their precarity. I see poetry in the modest, fragile, and flawed. I am expanding my found material sculptures into a multi-city series focused on the materiality of detritus, its cultural context, and specificity. I am also curating numerous text-based drawings that marry the seven languages that I speak with the image. As an educator, I teach a two-semester writing and literature course at the School of Visual Arts in New York, aimed at improving students’ writing and critical thinking. I see academia as an important sphere to nurture the next generation of artists—to “pay it forward.” I am also Treasurer and Strategic Development & Interim Development Director at Asia Contemporary Art Forum/Week, a New York-based global educational platform championing Asia-focused contemporary art and artists. Since 2016, I have been writing about Maryland Institute College of Art alumni and the work that they do in the real world, for the college’s website and magazines. I see it as a way to help build communities, not only for myself but also for Baltimore artists.

Artist Bio

Yam Chew Oh is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and writer working in Baltimore and New York. His practice includes drawing, painting, sculpture, assemblage, and photography. His works and writings have been exhibited and published in the United States and Asia, and featured in Commotion, Lumina Journal, Studio Visit, and Velocity. Yam Chew has moved across the world 15 times — his works often reflect the places he has been, both physically and mentally. They contain personal stories and significant moments in time, drawn from his formative years in long-gone rural Singapore, familial history and relationships, an international education, and a multilingual/cultural background. A lover of the written word, Yam Chew teaches freshman writing and literature at the School of Visual Arts in New York, where he earned his MFA. He is also Strategic Development & Interim Development Director of international curatorial-educational platform, Asia Contemporary Art Forum/Week.