Szu-Chieh Yun, Detail of "Houndstooth", Oil on Canvas, 5' x 9', 2023.

Project Room No. 5: Szu-Chieh Yun

Project Room No. 5: Szu-Chieh Yun

BCA Studio Resident Szu-Chieh Yun takes over the BCA Mills Gallery Project Room space. In a new body of work called Rage & Ecstasy, painter and installation artist Szu-Chieh Yun, explores and complicates our perception of the complex character of Karen.

This is the fifth installation in the Project Room Exhibition Series at the BCA Mills Gallery, which features work by BCA Studio Residency Artists who are part of a three-year residency in our Artist Studios Building.

Public Programs

Opening Reception

Saturday, April 29 | 6–9pm

Artist Statement

In the past three years, the term “Karen” has become widely used as a pejorative term referring to a white woman who is perceived as entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is deemed normal. The term is often portrayed in memes depicting women who use their white privilege to demand their own way.

In a new body of work called Rage & Ecstasy, painter and installation artist Szu-Chieh Yun, explores and complicates our perception of the complex character of Karen.

Yun, is a Taiwanese-American artist whose work pushes representations of the unseen, or silenced experiences of people like herself, first generation college educated, working class, immigrants.  In her installation in the Mills Project Room, she troubles an all too familiar scene of cultural privilege and dominance. Using the Karen motif, she examines presumably welcoming public spaces like parks, cafes and groceries stores. However, these spaces have been terrorized by characters with an authority that derives from their role in the dominant social hierarchy; their privilege and entitlement are demonstrated through acts of aggression against essential and service industry workers. Pulling research from the internet and personal accounts, Yun is attempting to make sense of the viral spreading of the Karen phenomenon. 

The circulation of the Karen phenomenon has only presented the image of privileged white women as aggressor. To dismantle this bias, the artist has worked to complicate and slow down the reception of the message. Yun creates surreal scenes in her paintings using multiple perspectives. Her installation includes materials such as pig ears, cod skins, and bull tendons found in high end pet stores. These materials are arranged to decorate the interior space. 

Employing humor, beauty, and meditative mark making, Yun’s compositions encourage an engagement with less often discussed aspects of the Karen phenomenon. By affirming the silenced or under-represented perspective, she seeks to hold a space for others to make sense and release themselves of the phenomenon. Her work is visceral and seductive, holding a space to laugh, be angry or feel sad and to be consumed by the absurdity.

Szu-Chieh Yun, BCA Studio Resident



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