Mel Chin was born in 1951 in Houston, Texas to Chinese parents. He was the first of his family to be born in the United States and he was reared in a predominantly African-American and Latino neighborhood. Chin began making art at an early age and although he is classically trained, his work evades easy classification. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee in 1975. He also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1988 and 1990.
Originally, Chin began working in sculpture, addressing political and social issues. As he became interested in environmental art, his ideas expanded to include a greater consideration for ecological systems and sustainability. Chin’s works often address issues of habitat devastation, restoration and sustaining the planet’s biodiversity.
While serving on the Board of Governors of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Chin developed a set of prints while working in Vinalhaven, Maine.