Mie Yim: Fluid Boundaries

June 18 - October 10, 2022

Mie Yim’s work offers a window into the mind of an artist who is constantly questioning and challenging herself. From earlier work featuring soft focus creatures with sweet exteriors but dark undertones, to more recent paintings of restless, edgy, biomorphic forms that often strain against the boundaries of the picture plane, Yim is clearly comfortable with discomfort. Her paintings draw the viewer in yet hold us at arm’s length. She renders her intriguing and unsettling creatures in vivid, saturated color that draws the eye, while the mark-making varies from thick and cakey to rough, scratchy, and frenzied, creating an uneasy tension. Yim’s ability and willingness to explore the porous boundaries between figuration and abstraction result in a body of work that compels you to look closer but leaves you uncertain and off balance. 

— Sarah Freeman, Curator

My approach to painting is highly intuitive, and over time I have developed a visual language that combines contradictory elements: the sweet and the sour, the playful and the emotionally dark. In my current work, sugary colors and anthropomorphic shapes conjure bunny ears or doe eyes, and forms like spikes, polyps, and vegetal structures take the coronavirus as an inspiration. The chaos and horror of nature will always be in tandem with beauty and wonder in my paintings. 

My imagery has shifted from the cute, weird, plushy figures of my earlier work to forms that are broken apart, turned inside out, and then reassembled. I have ventured away from narrative figurative painting, which was an exploration of memories and dreams from an earlier time, into abstract figuration. 

I am trying to make a whole shape that falls apart when one gets close to the image, dissolving the boundary between the real and the dreamlike. I think about getting underneath the banal gaze and evocative puffs of teddy bears and building compelling forms that embrace fuzzy, complex space. 

I use shapes, lines, and color that gel into metaphysical portraits of pathos, anxiety, and pugnacious hilarity. I layer soft edges like cotton balls against horizontal and vertical lines acting as scaffolding or skeletons. I erase, scuff, glaze, and lay on paint thick and thin. I embrace putting paint down intuitively. Painting this way is like falling backward without a net. After being overwhelmed by the perpetual uncertainty of my adolescence, I have come to embrace uncertainty in the studio.

— Mie Yim


June 18, Saturday, 5 p.m. — Celebration of Summer Exhibits
August 4, Thursday, 7 p.m. — Artist Walkthrough: Mie Yim
August 5, Friday, 5-8 p.m. — Chalk the Walk with Mie Yim during Gallery Walk


Virtual Tour
Installation shots
Ask the Artist!