A Journey Within - Defining Moments

In 2016-2017, we created a participatory public art project online and in our community. The project called for anonymous responses to the question "What moments have shaped you... into you?" . Over 300 responses were received and many come from a place of deep personal reflection and authenticity. The stories are brief but strangely all-encompassing, often carrying the imprimatur of loss, grief or some profound realization.


The video here presents the depth of the project exhibition. In addition to a set of 8 archival structures built by the artists to honor each individual story, there are several art pieces created with a purpose to collectively reflect the project.





In the project exhibition, we presented a behind-the-scenes documentary film to share with people the intense studio process of creating the exhibition.  Below is the film.




Archive, 8 units: 17 feet x 40 feet x 55.5 inches H

Paper Trail   41" D x 25" H x 46"W

Charcoal: 70" W x 81" H x 24"D

Exhibition Statement by Wan-Yi Lin and Roger Chen:


Since July 2016, we have invited the public to submit their personal anonymous stories about defining moments in their life. As of May 15, 2017, we received 271 responses, many of which touched our hearts.


The stories we received are evidence that we are all unique in many ways and that personal growth is an invisible yet significant factor influencing our makeup. Often times, a moment of clarity provides truth, and that truth can hurt us, bring us joy, or move us. Knowing this makes navigating life a little easier.


Defining Moments comprises several art pieces that collectively reflect different aspects of the project.


The installation Archive honours each personal story, which is individually accessible in eight viewing structures. The installation also portrays an on-going process of mounting submitted stories which implies that self-discovery is a perpetual process.


The projected video Hidden Clock was initially inspired by Phase 1 of the project, which invited public participation through the public’s response to the project question “What moments have shaped you…into you?” But after spending time with the stories shared by the public, we began to reflect on the power of past memories on our present experience and how we think about the future. We wondered if the present could affect our response to the past, and the future as well. So, in “Hidden Clock,” we used a manipulated clock coupled with the sound of a real ticking clock, to empower the present by bringing the past, present, and future closer to a parallel. Ultimately, “Hidden Clock” engages with the idea that we can help shape what future moments will define us.


The sculpture Paper Trail is a collection of crinkled paper bound in an abstract form of a book. According to the dictionary, the definition of a “Paper Trail” is the documents from which a person's actions may be traced or opinions learned. The artwork presents crinkles/paths created by both chance and control. Due to the fragility of the material, once paths are formed, they remain visible and cannot be undone. Using all the inherent characteristics resulting from the process and the material itself, the artwork intends to metaphorically draw recognition of different paths in life without passing judgment.


The drawing in the installation Charcoal is created from charcoal collected from our wood stove over the years prior to this project. We have been compelled to save these charcoal pieces for no apparent reason other than that they remind us of the truth “No two fires burn the same”. They also remind us of a beautiful quote from Leonard Cohen: “Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.” When we collected these charcoal pieces, we didn’t know what we would use them for. Over the ten-month development phase of the participatory art project, we have reflected on inter-relations and inter-connections in both the tangible and intangible aspects of life. It became clear that the charcoal we have saved over the years is a perfect medium to portray that reflection. From a piece of firewood, to a drawing hung on a gallery wall, the installation “Charcoal” intends to use itself to illustrate that things in the world are interrelated and interconnected, as are moments in life. Nothing stands alone.



Press release:


New exhibition at The ACT Art Gallery concludes a year-long process of engagement.

Show dates: Saturday, June 17 - Saturday, July 15, 2017

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 17 - 2-4pm; The Artists will be present.

Regular Gallery hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10am - 4pm and select evenings

Location: The ACT Art Gallery, (at The ACT Arts Centre) 11944 Haney Place, Maple Ridge, BC, V2X 6G1 Maple Ridge,


A new exhibition at The ACT Art Gallery marks the completion a remarkable collaborative public art project called Defining Moments. Over the last 10 months, artists Wan-Yi Lin and Roger Chen asked members of the public to consider and respond anonymously to the question, What Moments have Shaped You? Some 250 responses have been carefully mounted and installed on individual parchment panels, suspended within eight archival units that were designed and built by the artists. An initial encounter with this exhibition evokes a sense of purity and reserve, and, with further investigation, it quickly becomes clear that the responses come from a place of deep personal reflection and authenticity. The stories are brief but strangely all-encompassing, often carrying the imprimatur of loss, grief or some profound realization.


In an introductory statement on the project, artist Roger Chen states, “People are like trees. We all started from a seed with an intention so pure and perfect. We adapt to our constantly changing world. As time goes by, these moments in our environment are indefinitely and permanently recorded. Layer by layer, like the growth rings on a tree, they are preserved like letters in a diary. An archive chronicles what shaped us in our life.“


The project, which is jointly funded by the Maple Ridge Public Art Steering Committee and The ACT Arts Council, fully upholds the collaborative intentions of the artists in inviting the public to participate. For while Wan-Yi and Roger (known collectively as Mizzonk) spent many hours providing the framework for both the engagement and the exhibition, they have been fastidious in ensuring that project Is shaped by the participants’ stories, which provide the ‘content’ for the project. This level of engagement does not emerge without thoughtful preparation, as the participants must not only feel welcome, but safe. Clearly, the artists have succeeded in that goal, as the display resonates with a context of respectful sanctuary.


Roger Chen and Wan-Yi Lin, who are originally from Taiwan, have maintained an art practice from their studio in Whonnock, B.C. since 2002. Prior to that they established a personal and professional duo after meeting at the distinguished Pratt Institute in New York, where Wan-Yi was awarded an MFA in Sculpture and Roger Chen, a Bachelor of Architecture. Since that time they have created numerous art and design pieces, and have recently moved on to up-scaled installation artwork and outdoor sculpture. Defining Moments is their first participatory public art project.






We are collecting people's life stories, moments that have shaped us into the way we are today.  This participatory art project "Defining Moments" gives us a permission to invite the public to take a moment to reflect upon our own life.  Through sharing and reading anonymous stories, we hope the project will increase self-awareness and encourage social empathy.    - Wan-Yi and Roger


Led by artist team Roger Chen and Wan-Yi Lin / Mizzonk, the project consists of two phases:


Phase 1 : Public participation, both online and at participation stations.
Phase 2 : Exhibition at the ACT Gallery, Maple Ridge, BC Canada  June 17 - July 15  2017


Visit Project Website at www.OurDefiningMoments.org and participate.  Press release here.


The project is funded in part by a community public art grant from the City of Maple Ridge’s Public Art Steering Committee and the exhibition will be mounted by The ACT Art Gallery.