Image credit: Mimi Bai & Sam B. Jones


Curated by Amanda Contrada

Mimi Bai: HIDE AND SEE is the sixth exhibition in the 1:1 Exhibition Series presented in the Mills Gallery at Boston Center for the Arts. Each exhibition in this series presents a collaborative project between one curator and one artist, and either introduces a new artist or highlights a new aspect of a more experienced artist.

In Mimi Bai: HIDE AND SEE, Bai contemplates camouflage as a metaphor for assimilation, a labor-intensive process, and a methodology for survival and communication that selectively conceals and reveals. 

Camouflage involves making oneself invisible or hyper-visible, sometimes simultaneously. Bai draws parallels between this process and her experience of assimilation as an immigrant from China. She contextualizes this personal history within a historical and political framework that traces how capitalism and settler colonialism demand self-effacement in exchange for opportunity and a sense of safety. 

Bai marks the unrecognized labor of assimilation using clay, ink, and string, as well as the encumbered movements of her body captured on camera. These repetitive and taxing actions make physical the often invisible and immaterial exertions required to “blend in” to one’s environment. 

By abstracting fragments of her personal and familial history into patterns and forms, Bai has developed her own iconography that she employs throughout the works in the exhibition. A prominent example is the ghost, which emerged from a costume Bai wore as a child during her first Halloween in the US, then evolved through her research into ghillie suits — garments worn by snipers and hunters to conceal their bodies from an enemy or target. 

The ghosts in the exhibition serve as avatars for the artist as she reflects on the shifting and conditional state of the alien and the marginalized. Across drawing, sculpture, and film, Bai re-imagines and enacts alternative perspectives on survival, adaptation, improvisation, and creative possibility.

Public Programs

Public Reception & Curatorial Walkthrough

Friday, December 16, 2022 | 6–9pm

During the public reception for Mimi Bai: HIDE AND SEE, visitors will also be able to visit Project Room No. 3: Nathan Heilman the third of the new Mills Gallery Project Room Exhibition Series.

We hope you’ll take the opportunity to see new work from our Studio Residency Artists as well, the BCA Artist Studios Building will be open from 5:30–8pm. Explore the four floors next door and visit some BCA studio residents in their studios. Please RSVP.

Artists in Conversation:

Mimi Bai with Gohar Dashti & Ngoc-Tran Vu

Saturday, January 28, 2023, 2:00 PM | Pao Arts Center, Chinatown

Artists in Conversation: Panel Discussion with Mimi Bai, Gohar Dashti, and Ngoc-Tran Vu at Pao Arts Center — January 28, 2023 from Boston Center for the Arts on Vimeo.

Join NYC-based artist Mimi Bai for an intercity conversation with Boston-based artists Gohar Dashti and Ngoc-Tran Vu at Pao Arts Center. This conversation is in support of Bai’s solo exhibition Mimi Bai: HIDE AND SEE, curated by Amanda Contrada, that is currently on view at the Mills Gallery. Drawing from different regions of the diaspora, each artist utilizes varying conceptual approaches to explore themes of migration, home, and community through their work. Their overlapping and contrasting practices in video, photography, mixed media and public art raise anthropological and sociological questions around assimilation in new geographies.

After the conversation, join artist Mimi Bai at the Mills Gallery for an artist walkthrough of her solo exhibition, HIDE AND SEE. Artist gallery hours start at 4 pm that Saturday.

This program is organized by Pao Arts Center and Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) in connection with HIDE AND SEE, a solo exhibition by Mimi Bai, curated by Amanda Contrada.

Agenda for the day

2 PM | Pao Arts Center, Chinatown | Community Conversation: Mimi Bai in dialogue with artists Gohar Dashti and Ngoc-Tran Vu
4 PM | Mills Gallery at Boston Center for the Arts, South End | Gallery Walkthrough with Mimi Bai

Film Screening with Live Score

Saturday February 4, 2023 | BCA Plaza Theatre

HIDE AND SEE is an experimental narrative film collaboration between Sam B. Jones and Mimi Bai that activates Bai’s clay and textile sculptures as shrouds for two ghostly figures. The two pursue and evade one another across time and space using camouflage and bushcraft techniques — while the film shifts between black and white and color, alternately concealing or revealing the ghosts within their environment. For this special screening, the film’s composer Zain Alam (Humeysha) will perform a blended live and recorded score.


Watch the Trailer

Hide and See – Trailer.


About the Artist

Mimi Bai is a visual artist born in Xi’an, China, and based in Brooklyn, NY. Working across sculpture, drawing, installation, and film, her work examines camouflage, labor, assimilation, and survival as both a lived reality and fantasy. Bai has presented work at Artists Space, A.I.R. Gallery, BRIC, Project for Empty Space, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her films have screened at Rooftop Films, the Rockaway Film Festival, and the Maryland Film Festival. Bai was a SIP Fellow at the Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop as well as a NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow for Interdisciplinary Work and a recipient of two Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grants. She has been an Artist-in-Residence at organizations including the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts, the Saltonstall Foundation, and the Santa Fe Art Institute. Bai was a participant in the Whitney Independent Study Program and is a graduate of Alfred University (MFA, Sculpture) and Wesleyan University (BA, Sociology).

About the Curator

Amanda Contrada is a Brooklyn-based curator, producer, and project manager working in art and music. She has produced exhibitions including Rammellzee: Racing for Thunder and Bjarne Melgaard’s The Casual Pleasure of Disappointment at Red Bull Arts New York as well as curating and overseeing contemporary art performances and installations at cultural events such as Material Art Fair and MUTEK.

In the Press

This exhibition was supported in part by: