Jean Shin and Brian Ripel: Retreat

DeCordova Exhibits
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On View Sep 02, 2012 - Dec 30, 2012
Exhibition Location: Foster Galleries

Collaborators Jean Shin and Brian Ripel collect everyday materials to create sculptural installations that become poetic portraits of the places and communities in which they work. At deCordova, Shin and Ripel mine the local history of retreat through the language of art and architecture in three related investigations. In Tea House, located on deCordova’s Rooftop Terrace, and in the installations Castles in the Air and Measuring the Depths of his own Nature on view in the 4th floor Foster Galleries, the artists consider the shape and vision of idealized escape.

Their interest in retreat was inspired by the author and naturalist Henry David Thoreau’s move to nearby Walden Pond in 1845 and museum  founder Julian de Cordova’s summer escape to Flint’s Pond in 1882. In these installations, Shin and Ripel harness the shared impulse to seek refuge with the materials that made these physical and psychological havens possible: pencils and tea. The artists build from Thoreau’s familial connection to pencil manufacturing and his vocations as author and land surveyor as well as de Cordova’s role as tea merchant, to engage local cultural and industrial histories.

Earlier this summer, as part of the three-part project, Shin and Ripel invited visitors to participate in the act of retreat by withdrawing to deCordova’s Rooftop to enjoy a cup of tea in their Tea House. The thousands of tea bags used by Museum visitors not only became material for Castles in the Air, but now also sculpt a collective portrait of the deCordova community that convened to participate. Building on the cultural and material histories of our surroundings as well as our own social network, Shin and Ripel ask us to consider the shaping of architectural form and the mapping of landscape as physical embodiments of personal, philosophical, and psychological retreat.

Based in Brooklyn, NY, Shin and Ripel have collaborated on a number of projects and created site-specific installations, most recently at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. Shin’s solo exhibitions include the Museum of Modern Art, NY and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Jean Shin and Brian Ripel: Retreat is supported, in part, through generous in-kind support from Red Rose and Salada Tea.

The Tea House was installed on the Rappaport Roof Terrace from June 17–September 19, 2012

Castles in the Air and Measuring the Depths of his own Nature will be on view in the Foster Galleries from September 2–December 30, 2012.

Jean Shin and Brian Ripel: Retreat is supported, in part, through generous in-kind support from Red Rose and Salada Tea.



Jean Shin was born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in the suburbs of Washington DC. She attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1999 and received a BFA and MS from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. Her work has been widely exhibited in major national and international museums, including solo exhibitions at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona (2010), Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC (2009), the Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia (2006), and The Museum of Modern Art in New York (2004). Site-specific permanent installations have been commissioned by the US General Services Administration Art in Architecture Award, New York City’s Percent for the Arts and MTA Art for Transit. Shin has received numerous awards, including the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Architecture/Environmental Structures (2008) and Sculpture (2003), Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Art Award.

Brian Ripel is an architect and founder of RSVP Architecture Studio, located in Brooklyn, NY. Brian is a frequent collaborator with Jean Shin, having exhibited site specific projects at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington, the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, the Dorsky Gallery, the Brooklyn Public Library, among others. His architectural projects have been featured in the New York Times, Interior Design magazine, Monument, Architect Magazine and the Architect’s Newspaper. Brian is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Pratt Institute, in the undergraduate architecture program. He received his Master of Science in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University and his Bachelor of Architecture from Pratt Institute.

Both artists live and work in New York.

Jean Shin is represented by Cristin Tierney Gallery, New York, NY.


Saturday, September 15, 11 am–3 pm

Celebrate the collaborative and participatory nature of the fall exhibitions and new Park installations. Join artist collective Okay Mountain for the unveiling of their brand new Park intervention, view the inaugural reading at Dan Peterman’s Love Podium, tour Jean Shin and Brian Ripel’s exhibition Retreat, pARTicipate in interactive tours and arts activities for all ages, and more!

Schedule of Events:

11 am: pARTicipate with the Okay Mountain artist collective

12 pm: Inaugural Public Reading at Dan Peterman’s Love Podium 

1 pm: Curator Tour with Lexi Lee Sullivan of Jean Shin and Brian Ripel: Retreat followed by tea service on the Rappaport Roof Terrace

2 pm: pARTicipate Interactive Sculpture Park Tour


11 am–1 pm: ARTfull Explorations in the Dewey Family Gallery

1–3 pm:  Tea Service on the Rappaport Roof Terrace

1–3 pm: Pop Up Process Gallery 

History of Tea with a Twist: Tea and Tea Cocktails - SOLD OUT
Thursday, September 27, 6
8 pm

Inspired by the exhibition, Jean Shin and Brian Ripel: Retreat, deCordova welcomes Cynthia Gold, tea sommelier at Boston’s L’Espalier restaurant, for an informative evening learning about the history of tea and enjoying tea drinks and cocktails on deCordova’s roof terrace. Tea historian and co-author of Culinary Tea, Gold will discuss the historical evolution of New England's tea drinks from pre-Revolution punch to today’s sophisticated cocktails. Event held rain or shine. Must be 21 years of age with proper ID. Limit 75.

$25Non-Members/$20Members; Registration required; tickets are limited!

Artist Talk: Jean Shin
Saturday, October 6, 2 pm

Meet one of the artists behind the three-part installation, Jean Shin and Brian Ripel: Retreat, which is inspired by the local examples of Henry David Thoreau’s move to Walden Pond in 1845 and Julian deCordova’s retreat to Flint’s Pond in 1882.