Skinny by Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi

Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi

Taiwan/USA | b. 1981

Chun-Shan Yi is an artist, disability activist, and scholar. Her interdisciplinary practice often centers on personal histories and narratives generated within and performed by the body through everyday social interaction. Much of her wearable art emerges from a collaborative design process involving sharing stories and supporting self-care with cohorts in the Disabled community. Skinny is an ongoing collaboration that began through her relationship with a “Crip sister” whose skin grows 100 times faster than average. The intensive exfoliation and recovery her treatment requires led to emotional exchanges and reflections between them. Yi writes “Peeling and tossing away Rahnee’s skin are actions of relieving her from pain and itch, but are they also metaphors of getting rid of parts of her? If her skin flakes were evidence of her existence, what does it say about the gesture of throwing pieces of her away? While I contemplated the questions above, I decided to turn to sewing and made pods to hold Rahnee’s skin flakes to document the intimate communications and the care relationships between Crip sisters.”

Both visceral and tender, Yi’s practice confronts the normative tendency to discard the Disabled body, instead preserving fragments like sacred relics in their embroidered silken sacs. The repetitive, rhythmic process of sewing becomes an embodiment of and a metaphor for healing, not physically, but in the psychic space within and between us. Yi is a Ph.D. candidate in Disability Studies at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She was born and raised in Taiwan and regularly travels between the U.S., Taiwan and China, helping to establish Disability Culture in her home country. Since 2006 she has exhibited in Hong Kong, the Czech Republic and across the United States.

More Information


Year: 2014–Ongoing

Medium: Human skin flakes, silk organza, sewing thread, embroidery thread and lotion

Courtesy of the Artist

ArtPrize Vote Code: 68602

Skinny, by Chun-Shan (Sandie) Yi. 2018 Human skin flakes, silk organza, sewing thread, & embroidery thread.

Dimensions in inches, in order of height, width, and depth:

The work comprises a collection of small, translucent silk “pods” filled with flakes of skin . The pods are of uneven size and shape. They have a pale color, with red in places. The pods are presented inside three frames. The frames are rectangular, with a transparent front panel and opaque white backing. Each frame has approximately ten pods stored within it, arranged with a small amount of space between them in a way that no two pods touch.

Audio Description