Wednesday, June 2, 2021
MEDIA CONTACT: Virginia McInnis | VirginiaM@ScottsdaleArts.org | 480-874-4663
Mimi O Chun’s First Solo Exhibition On View at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona — Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) announces the second exhibition to open in PROJECT SPACE and first solo exhibition for Mimi O Chun. Titled “Mimi O Chun: It’s all cake,” will be on view Sept. 4, 2021 – Jan. 23, 2022.
Delightful soft sculptures by New York-based artist and designer Mimi O Chun will take over SMoCA’s PROJECT SPACE — an initiative presenting new work by emerging and established contemporary artists. The artist’s new works, created during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, recontextualizes existing vernacular used in popular culture to reveal truth about the values we collectively adopt, perpetuate and create.
Chun is best known for her 20-plus years of design experience in brand and product creation for companies such as Airbnb, General Assembly and IDEO. Her ability to simultaneously identify the aesthetically pleasing and critically disturbing ways in which our world functions drives her prolific production of soft sculptures, design innovation and witty socio-political commentary on various media platforms.
“I was first introduced to Mimi’s sculptures and online presence through her sister Miro Chun, who is a friend and artist based here in Phoenix,” said Lauren R. O’Connell, curator of contemporary art at SMoCA. “I was immediately taken with Mimi’s poignant use of desirable imagery and materials in combination with her critical assessments of popular culture. This is an artist who has primarily been recognized in design and foodie circles, and I knew that her vision and artwork needed to be shared with a larger audience in the art world and beyond. She has proven to be a true professional and constant generator of ideas. I feel that her timely work will resonate with many people.”
Chun’s works aim to capture moments that reflect the world in which we live. Over the past year, life and culture were halted by the pandemic, forming a new reality where life is “lived” though distanced online experiences. The works created for the exhibition “It’s all cake” were made by the artist in response to the past year and speaks to the absurdity of online consumption, where fun gimmicks distract from deeper issues.
“This body of work was produced over the past year and a half, during a particularly disruptive trifecta of events: a global pandemic, a polarized political climate and a civil uprising for racial justice,” Chun said. “While frontline workers serviced the public, social distancing and shelter-in-place orders kept the rest of us at home, tethered to our laptops and phones around the clock. The same social media ecosystem that brought us momentary relief in the form of TikTok dances and hyperrealistic illusion cakes also forced us to collectively confront unspeakable police brutality in the murder of George Floyd. These cultural, political, and economic winds formed a perfect storm that have exposed and exacerbated the structural inequities of a late capitalist economy.”
Chun’s practice humorously points out the complicity in which pop culture and life itself can be a fever dream of real-time news and Instagrammable moments. Viewers of Chun’s work may find that her plush sculptures replicate familiar objects in amusing ways.
In addition to her more playful works, Chun’s work also provides elements of socio-political commentary. As a first-generation Korean American, Chun is personally impacted by racialized violence in this country, specifically with the recent rise in Asian hate crimes. One of the artist’s new works mixes selfie equipment with a body camera for civilians and bystanders — a gesture to consider one’s own actions and social responsibility.
“Chun’s work is definitely conversation-worthy,” O’Connell said. “While visitors are not allowed to touch the artworks, we do encourage them to photograph and share their thoughts via social media. Since the artist herself is a proclaimed ‘media junkie’ and has a strong following on Twitter and Instagram, it seems only natural to bring these platforms into conversation with the exhibition.”
Jennifer McCabe, SMoCA director and chief curator, said the Museum is an institution that aims to support artists at all points of their careers.
“PROJECT SPACE as an exhibition concept highlights our belief in supporting emerging artists as well as more established artists interested in thinking outside their typical practice,” McCabe said. “Generally, PROJECT SPACE reflects the idea that a contemporary art museum is a space for innovation.”
“Mimi O Chun: It’s all cake” is organized by Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art and curated by Lauren R. O’Connell, curator of contemporary art.
Through its partnership with the city of Scottsdale, the nonprofit Scottsdale Arts (formerly known as Scottsdale Cultural Council) creates diverse, inspired arts experiences and educational opportunities that foster active, lifelong community engagement with the arts. Since its founding in 1987, Scottsdale Arts has grown into a regionally and nationally significant, multi-disciplinary arts organization offering an exceptional variety of programs through four acclaimed branches — Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA), Scottsdale Public Art and Scottsdale Arts Learning & Innovation — serving more than 600,000 participants annually. In conjunction with the City of Scottsdale, we also host more than 200,000 people annually on our campus through a robust rentals program.
SCOTTSDALE MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART
Founded in 1999, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) explores the best of contemporary art, architecture and design. Global in its focus, the Museum is a unique and vital cultural resource for the Southwest, serving local audiences as well as visitors from the United States and abroad. Designed by award-winning architect Will Bruder, SMoCA’s minimalist building (an ingenious renovation of a former movie theater) has four galleries for showcasing changing exhibitions and works from the Museum’s collection, along with SMoCA Lounge, a living, functional art installation and space for community engagement. The Museum presents a wide variety of educational programs and special events for adults and families, including lectures, readings, performances, docent-led tours, workshops and classes. SMoCA also features an outdoor sculpture garden housing James Turrell’s “Knight Rise,” one of the renowned artist’s public skyspaces, and “Scrim Wall,” a monumental curtain of translucent glass panels by James Carpenter Design Associates. The Museum’s retail store, Shop@SMoCA, offers classic design objects and furnishings, contemporary jewelry, art and architecture books, and imaginative gifts for all occasions.
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