So Scottsdale September 2021

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ART IMITATING LIFE Mimi O Chun debut’s her playful yet impactful sculptures at SMoCA


New York-based artist and designer Mimi O Chun will debut her first solo exhibition at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA) this month. Chun’s collection, titled It’s all cake, will be on display from Sept. 4, 2021 through Jan. 23, 2022. “I’m incredibly excited to see the work come together into a focused exhibit, and I’m even more grateful for the opportunity to show it within a museum context intended for the general public,” Chun says. The exhibit will showcase Chun’s signature playful work of sculptures made from soft fabrics. “I’ve always been a big proponent of humor as a means of engaging an audience, and this is particularly true when the work is critical in nature. There’s nothing like an oversized plush object to draw in and disarm the viewer so that they might be more receptive to its intended commentary,” she says. “On a practical level, the possibilities enabled by fabric are so limitless — it’s available in a variety of colors, it’s nontoxic, and lightweight. It’s magical when you’re able to transform a flat piece of fabric into something structural and three dimensional, or when a pigeon you’ve sewn from small scraps of fabric seems imbued with life force.” Like all of Chun’s work, It's all cake aims to capture moments that reflect today’s modern world. This specific exhibit is meant to depict the new reality that people faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s all cake speaks to the absurdities of who we are and what we want to consume when left to — and with — our own devices,” says Chun, a first-generation Korean American whose work provides elements of socio-political commentary. “It’s my hope that the work intuitively resonates with the viewer’s own reflections on the past year and a half. Despite the fact that so many of us were socially distanced from one another, I can’t help but feel as if, on some level, we actually shared a collective experience: a pivotal period of time shaped by a pandemic, political upheaval, and the beginnings of a racial reckoning,” In addition to a good-humored take at the events that unfolded over the past year and a half – look out for the hard pants re-imagined as an illusion cake – Chun also focuses on the deeper meaning of all that is happening in the world. “For those of us who are nonessential workers, our worlds both shrank and slowed, and we found ourselves leaning into consumption as a coping mechanism,” she says. “We put away our jeans and opted for leggings. We reflexively scrolled social media and scanned headlines. We made some pretty random purchases via Amazon Prime — I know I did. My hope is that the work feels familiar, and that people recognize it as both accurate and absurd.” Learn more at or


So Scottsdale! September ‘21

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