The Art of Canning:

An Artist's Inspiration

Can you recall a childhood experience that was so powerful it stuck with you into adulthood?

Imin Yeh, a visual arts professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, sure can.

As an elementary school student in Bethesda during the early 1990s, Imin visited the Baltimore Museum of Industry and took part in the BMI’s Kids’ Cannery program. In January 2018, Imin wrote to the BMI searching for the source of this memory.

I’m now a professor at CMU in the School of Art, I make a lot of work inspired by Museums, archives, historical objects etc. I teach Printmaking, so I have great affinity for industrial technologies. I have a sneaking suspicion that this museum might have been the root of it all.Imin Yeh

In a conversation that followed this initial email inquiry, Imin explains the strength of the memory and it’s lasting impact, “I remember the rattle of the can, the tactile experience of making something and taking it home.”

As a visual artist, Imin has always been interested in how things are made. She loves the idea of mining history and often incorporates historical artifacts and processes in her work. She strongly believes in the value of arts education and said,“It’s magical to learn how things are made.”

Twenty-five years ago, Imin Yeh visited the BMI with her elementary school classmates and fell in love with the BMI’s Kids’ Cannery program. Today, the Carnegie Mellon art professor continues to make artwork inspired by that visit, including paper cans and hand-painted paper oysters, which have been exhibited at the SPACE gallery in Pittsburgh. During a visit to the BMI for a trip down memory lane, Imin explained that her art project was inspired in equal amounts from the cans used in the BMI’s popular field trip activity, her memory of visiting the museum as a child, and an idealized version of the two that suits her adult artist desires.

Imin grew up in Bethesda, Maryland in close proximity to some of our nation’s greatest museums, which served as fodder for her creativity. She teaches printmaking, so has a great affinity for archives, historical artifacts, and industrial technologies such as the kind shown in the BMI’s print shop and other galleries.
Imin’s visit to the BMI so many years ago helped to set her trajectory towards her career. The Kids’ Cannery program continues to inspire the young visitors and to give them a unique and lasting experience to take home with them.

Perhaps you had a memorable field trip that impacted you in the same way. Or maybe your child or grandchild recently visited the BMI and experienced the same joy and excitement as Imin did almost three decades ago.

Field trips to the BMI have such a long-lasting impact because of the connections established through interactive experiences. Field trip programs create memories that often stay with children their entire lives.

Learn more about programs that offer the opportunity to discover Baltimore’s unique past and curiously reimagine its future.

City Kits for Student Groups

Virtual Field Trips

YouTube Playlist for Students

Visit the BMI’s Connection Factory to connect with stories that show how education, exhibitions, and partnerships strengthen our community.

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