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In Conversation: May Sun

May Sun, UnderGround (detail), 1991, Mixed media, dimensions variable. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, purchased with funds provided by the Cynthia Anderson Memorial Fund and an anonymous donor. Photo by Jeff McLane.

In Conversation: May Sun

Member Event Lecture

MOCA members at the Household/Dual level and above are invited to a conversation between Los Angeles-based artist May Sun and MOCA Associate Curator Rebecca Lowery. Taking place in the galleries of Lonesome Crowded West: Works from MOCA’s Collection, the pair will discuss Sun's practice as well as her room-sized installation UnderGround (1991) currently on view in the exhibition.

A light breakfast of coffee and pastries will be provided outdoors prior to the conversation.

An invitation with event details and an RSVP link will be emailed to members at the Household/Dual level ($129) and above. If you would like to upgrade your existing membership, please contact the Membership Department at

About the artist:
May Sun was born in Shanghai, China, raised in British Hong Kong, and has lived in California since the age of sixteen. She received a B.A. in Art from UCLA and attended Otis Art Institute’s MFA program. Over the course of her nearly four decade long career, Sun has been exhibited both nationally and internationally and has come to be known for multimedia performance art pieces and large scale installations. Her work can be found in numerous public and private collections; notably, the room-sized installation UnderGround (1991) is a part of the MOCA permanent collection.

Throughout her body of work, the artist has endeavored to shine a light on site-specific cultural and environmental connections. Sun’s artwork often employs immersive visual, auditory, and even olfactory experiences to heighten visitors’ connection to the immediate space as well as to the adjacent surroundings.
The artist’s awards and residencies include two National Endowment for the Arts awards in New Genres, a Getty Visual Artists Fellowship, a California Arts Council Artists Fellowship, a Vesta Award for Performance Art from the Woman’s Building, and artist residencies at MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts, ArtPace in San Antonio, Texas and at the Monet Foundation in Giverny, France.

About the exhibition:
The historian Clyde Milner has written that the American West is “an idea that became a place.” Indeed, the “West” is both a reality and a cultural concept that has been used to optimistic and opportunistic ends; it has stood as an allegory for rugged American individualism, signaling possibility and expansion, but also for the stark reality of settler-colonial exploitation.
Given this thorny legacy, what should a picture of the West look like today? The artists in Lonesome Crowded West: Works from MOCA’s Collection respond to this question from a multiplicity of perspectives, tracing the contours of the American West through individual stories and collective histories, and through reflection on climate and the tension between the built and natural environment. Speaking with a plurality of voices, they ask not so much what the West means, but rather what it is, and what it can mean to be in.

Programming at MOCA is presented by the MOCA Thrive Fund courtesy of Chara Schreyer.