Born in Taiwan and a graduate of the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, Lin Wen-Ben grew into a practice with roots in the performative sway and mark-making motions of brush calligraphy. In a contemporary stroke, he blends the traditional with the spontaneous energy of an action painter, recording the culture clash he has experienced on film and in person. His latest foray? Digital animation. Learn more about Lin Wen-Ben as he answers the Colorado Creatives questionnaire.
What (or who) is your creative muse?
We as humans are more connected to knowledge and creative people around the world; it's an exciting time to be an artist. Viewing and experiencing other people’s work motivates me to make art daily. Other things also inspire my artistic practice: the conversations I have with people and a philosophy podcast I listen to. Just to name a few artists that have had a big impact on me are Allison Schulnik, Tom Friedman and Kendrick Lamar. Their work enhances my social awareness and the process of art-making. Schulnik makes amazing claymation video work. Her work inspires me to think about motion and experimental videos. Tom Friedman makes me think about the materiality in our modern life. He conceptually uses physical matter and human construct toward materials. Kendrick’s “Section 80”and “good kid m.A.A.d city” make me think about identity issues in America. I often think about identity in my work and how to use it as a material. To me, people and their experiences could be used for readymades.
Which three people, dead or alive, would you like to invite to your next party, and why?
Just Chance the Rapper and all my friends who love him. I am like the biggest fan. I never had the “chance” or the money to see him perform. It would be my biggest dream to throw a Chance the Rapper party.
What’s the best thing about the local creative community in your field — and the worst?
It’s small, but there are a lot of talented and passionated people in this community. There are a lot of opportunities here in Denver, and people often help each other out. The shows I’ve had so far this year have all come from out of nowhere. I want to say a big thanks to Gretchen Schaeffer, Laine Godsey, Eric Nord and Eric Dallimore at Leon for giving me the opportunity to show my work this year.
How about globally?
Internationally, I am really inspired by the Tate Modern galleries in England. They showcase and fund modern and contemporary artists.
What made you choose art, or did art choose you?
Art is all I think about. At my day job, I daydream about making art. To me, everyone was born as an artist, but some people forgot. Others are just taking a break or have not yet experimented with their creative energy. I just can’t get it off my mind.
What’s your best or favorite accomplishment as an artist?
Getting into New American Paintings is my favorite accomplishment! I dreamed of being in an art magazine since I was seventeen, and I knew my dream was going to come true when I saw the juror’s curatorial history. She specializes in identity and performance art. The works I submitted were titled “The Martial Artist” and “The Headbanger,” and are about creating the stereotypical identity of the artist through experimental mark-making. Juxtapositions of base materials to final paintings can question the cultural assumptions of those objects, or props, and simultaneously transfigure their original meaning.
In my performance and painting “The Martial Artist,” I performed a caricature of my Asian identity, utilizing nunchucks to create an abstract painting of black gesso paint on canvas. For “The Headbanger,” I created a similar but distinct painting out of different cultural materials and an almost genre-like understanding of identity. I donned a wig and dipped my hair in black paint, head-banging against a canvas while someone played guitar riffs behind me. Ever since I came to America, I had struggled with my identity. I wanted to perform the readymade stereotypes of Eastern cultural and musical identities and abstract-expressionist painters.
You’ve come this far in life. What’s still on your bucket list?
I want to visit Taiwan again sometime in the near future — drop by the environment I grew up in and reconnect with the people I use to know. I’d also like to get funding for my animation shorts or any other art project.
Denver, love it or leave it? What keeps you here — or makes you want to leave?
For me, I think this chapter of being in Denver will be coming to the end soon. I have been here for about five years now. I think I’m going to move back to Tempe, Arizona, and get my MFA in Intermedia at Arizona State University. Hopefully I will also get into some cultural-exchange program to visit Taiwan.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
There are a lot people I look up to, so it is hard for me choose my favorite. People like Josh Gondrez, Shelby Rahe, f-ether, Veronica Gene Nichols, Kelly Dulaney, Jack Estenssoro, Amber Cobb, Mario Zoots, Eric Nord and Eric Dallimore. They all make amazing works.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
I think I am ready to apply to graduate school. I also want to learn more about animation and get really good at the 3-D software Blender.
Who do you think will (or should) get noticed in the local arts community in the coming year?
Josh Gondrez makes experimental videos. Shelby Rahe also makes performance pieces and experimental videos. f-ether makes hot-a** clap beats as a musician. Veronica Gene Nichols makes eye-catching, dreamlike paintings and uses fashion to express her art as well.
P.S. RIP to Mac Miller.
Learn more about Lin Wen-Ben and his work online.