Christopher Chinn


My artwork is inspired by my experience of living in downtown Los Angeles near skid row. My first apartment/studio after graduate school (USC '01) was the second floor of a sewing factory just off of San Pedro Street. When I moved into that studio three people were living in the walkway to the front door and another man lived in a cardboard box and palette structure around the corner. Everything that the rest of us do in private I've seen homeless people do in the open, under broad daylight. Living with the homeless everyday and witnessing such events on a regular basis forced me to confront all of the mixed feelings I had toward them - the natural way for me to do that was with painting. I started to talk with them and slowly got to know many of the homeless in my neighborhood. My artwork springs from this interaction with the homeless.

For me, this artwork has been a vehicle for connecting with the margins of our society, the people that we would rather not have to acknowledge. As a capitalistic and democratic society we just do not know what to do with them, even as more and more of us find ourselves on the brink, and the number of homeless is ever growing. It is my hope that my work encompasses the respect, admiration and compassion that I have for the homeless, as well presents all of us with a challenge to face the uncomfortable feelings that arise when we encounter them such as guilt and shame, pride, fear, anger or hate.

--Christopher Chinn, Los Angeles, 2009