Over her eight-year career, San Francisco artist Imin Yeh has used paper to express sociopolitical and socioeconomic ideologies born out of Western consumer culture.
“Paper Power,” which Yeh has been working on for four years, consists of 36 paper connection cords linking paper electrical outlets. It wasn’t the paper construction that took years to finish, but the artistic rendering of paper into practical things.
“It’s very useless,” Yeh says in a phone interview about “Paper Power,” which will be on display Friday at the Rock the Garden festival of art, music and food in Saratoga. “The potential of paper performing as a utility is a good analogy of how these commonplace objects act in our lives. They’re arbitrarily placed, subtle — but there is this dependency on them that we ignore.”
Yeh cuts, glues, paints and sculpts each object by hand. This step-by-step, intensive process mirrors the intimate relationships consumers have with the inanimate objects, in this case electrical outlets, that she manipulates in her work.
“I once had someone try to plug their phone into one of the paper outlets,” Yeh says. “Which was awesome. It’s sort of like this act that things in this world aren’t what they seem.”
Yeh has previously explored similar themes. Yeh spent 20 hours crafting a mahjong set out of paper for 2010’s “Paper Mahjong,” which was displayed at the Contemporary Jewish Museum.
In 2014, Yeh exhibited “Paper Bag Project” at the Asian Art Museum. A wall installation of white paper shopping bags accompanied a seven-minute video documenting the grueling process of making each bag.
In the exhibit, she reveals the work it takes to make a product that is otherwise consumed without much thought.
“They’re all painstaking ideas,” Yeh says. “I’ve always been fascinated by the politics of making something by hand.”
IF YOU GO
Rock the Garden festival
Where: Montalvo Art Center, 15400 Montalvo Road, Saratoga
When: 6 to 10 p.m. Friday