Meekyoung Shin’s beautiful sculptures – Made entirely from soap

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Meekyoung Shin - Crouching Aphrodite, 2002

Meekyoung Shin -- Crouching Aphrodite, 2002

Published: February 6, 2017

Last updated:

About Meekyoung Shin

Meekyoung Shin, a South Korean sculptor, became popular for her Translation series, using soap as her medium of art. Trained in the tradition of European sculpture, her statuettes are made factoring in the Western and Eastern styles of relief. Her works are usually made from palm oil, a vegetarian soap.

Her technique

The free-standing ancient Greek sculptures of nude male youths made by Shin are perfect replicas of the originals. She actually preserved the missing limbs, cracks and other defects that were on the classical sculptures. Shin’s vases are also replica. The originals from China were created and sold in the European market between the 16th and 20th centuries. The vases feature dragons, warriors and other essential elements that depict Chinese culture. When you look at them, you will notice the careful carving and also will be attracted by the scent of the soap, used to make the works.

Video: Meekyoung Shin speaks about her Soap Vase Carving

1 min 31 sec

What was her Toilet Project?

While most people choose to go to the public toilets as a last resort, for Meekyoung Shin, this is the best place to place her art and latest pieces. Using the Toilet Project, she has been able to display some of her sculptures in public toilets. This is an art program that is aimed at having galleries display their art in toilets.

Challenges of the Toilet Project

Meekyoung Shin has faced some challenges in the line of duty. For instance, the statue of Buddha that was in public toilets has been removed by the Korean Cultural Centre UK after a number of visitors complained. For most people, having a religious icon in the toilet does not seem right, and this has been a big hindrance to the growth of the Toilet Project. Shin’s work is a great wonder for most people who wash their hands using these soap statutes and illustrates the transition that happens in life.

Video: Translation exhibition

4 min 42 sec

Sculptures

Vases
Meekyoung Shin - Untitled (Red Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, 22x22x43cm and Untitled (Blue Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, 21x21x33cm

Meekyoung Shin -- Untitled (Red Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, 22 x 22 x 43 cm and Untitled (Blue Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, 21 x 21 x 33 cm

Meekyoung Shin - Translation, Vase Series, 2013, soap, pigment, varnish and wooden crate

Meekyoung Shin -- Translation, Vase Series, 2013, soap, pigment, varnish and wooden crate

Meekyoung Shin - Translation, Vase Series, 2006-ongoing, Soap, pigment, varnish, mirrored stainless steel plates, wooden crates, Dimensions variable

Meekyoung Shin -- Translation, Vase Series, 2006-ongoing, Soap, pigment, varnish, mirrored stainless steel plates, wooden crates, Dimensions variable

Meekyoung Shin - Translation, Vase series, Soap, pigment, varnish, mirrored steel, fragrance, wooden crate, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art

Meekyoung Shin -- Translation, Vase series, Soap, pigment, varnish, mirrored steel, fragrance, wooden crate, Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art

Meekyoung Shin - Installation View @Hakgojae Shanghai, 2015 3

Meekyoung Shin -- Installation View, Hakgojae Gallery, Shanghai, China, 2015

Meekyoung Shin - Installation View @Hakgojae Shanghai, 2015

Meekyoung Shin -- Installation View, Hakgojae Gallery, Shanghai, China, 2015

Meekyoung Shin - Installation View @Hakgojae Shanghai, 2015 5

Meekyoung Shin -- Installation View, Hakgojae Gallery, Shanghai, China, 2015

Meekyoung Shin - Installation View @Hakgojae Shanghai, 2015, Translation, Ghost Series(Red), 2007-ongoing, Soap, varnish, fragrance, Dimensions variable

Meekyoung Shin – Translation, Ghost Series(Red), soap, varnish, fragrance, Dimensions variable, Installation View, Hakgojae Gallery, Shanghai, China, 2015

Meekyoung Shin - Ghost Series; Pink, Soap, varnish, pigment, 2012. 32 x 42 x 44 cm

Meekyoung Shin -- Ghost Series; Pink, Soap, varnish, pigment, 2012. 32 x 42 x 44 cm

​Meekyoung Shin - Untitled (Black Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, dimensions variable 2

​Meekyoung Shin -- Untitled (Black Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, dimensions variable

​Meekyoung Shin - Untitled (Black Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, dimensions variable

​Meekyoung Shin -- Untitled (Black Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, dimensions variable

Toilet Project
Meekyoung Shin - Toilet Project 2, 2014, Soap, fragrance, dimensions variable

Meekyoung Shin – Toilet Project, 2014, Soap, fragrance, dimensions variable

Meekyoung Shin - Toilet Project 1, 2014, Soap, fragrance, dimensions variable

Meekyoung Shin – Toilet Project, 2014, Soap, fragrance, dimensions variable

Meekyoung Shin - Toilet project bust, 2013, Soap, fragrance, dimensions variable, photo jim varney

Meekyoung Shin -- Toilet project bust, 2013, Soap, fragrance, dimensions variable, photo: Jim Varney/​Cass Sculpture Foundation

Meekyoung Shin - Toilet project, 2013, Soap, fragrance, dimensions variable, photo jim varney

Meekyoung Shin -- Toilet project bust, 2013, Soap, fragrance, dimensions variable, photo: Jim Varney/​Cass Sculpture Foundation

Meekyoung Shin - Toilet Project, Taipei, Soap, fragrance, dimensions variable

Meekyoung Shin -- Toilet project, 2013, Soap, fragrance, dimensions variable, Taipei, Taiwan

Classical sculptures
Meekyoung Shin - Installation View @Hakgojae Shanghai, 2015

Meekyoung Shin -- Installation View, Hakgojae Gallery, Shanghai, China, 2015

Meekyoung Shin - Weathering Project, 2013, Soap, fragrance, dimensions variable

Meekyoung Shin -- Weathering Project, 2013, Soap, fragrance, dimensions variable

Religious sculptures
Meekyoung Shin - Gilt Buddha, 2011, Soap, gold leaf, varnish, 90x28x28cm

Meekyoung Shin -- Gilt Buddha, 2011, Soap, gold leaf, varnish, 90 x 28 x 28 cm

Meekyoung Shin - Buddha, 2011

Meekyoung Shin -- Buddha, 2011

​Meekyoung Shin - Untitled (Black Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, 24x14x10cm

​Meekyoung Shin -- Untitled (Black Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, 24 x 14 x 10 cm

​Meekyoung Shin - Untitled (Black Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, 47x19x20cm

​Meekyoung Shin -- Untitled (Black Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, 47 x 19 x 20 cm

​Meekyoung Shin - Untitled (Black Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, 83x18x40cm

​Meekyoung Shin -- Untitled (Black Series), 2013, Soap, varnish, pigments, 83 x 18 x 40 cm

All images by Meekyoung Shin unless otherwise noted.

 

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