Misako Inaoka


Survival Game , Misako Inaoka‘s, motley menagerie of animal hybrids, is currently on display through June 20th at the David Salow Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. The gallery is lined with tiny eye-level platforms staging metallic conglomerations in mid-stride. Perhaps they are on their way to complete utilitarian tasks for which their bodies have evolved industrial, and sometimes, military adaptations. Two chess boards complete with sets of dueling pawns, rooks, queens, knights, and bishops are also included in the show.

Inaoka creates these miniatures by seamlessly fusing plastic and rubber toys. She applies a metallic finish that enhances the textural details of the figurines and gives them the initial appearance of cast metal. Sometimes, she even uses battery operated motion sensors that detect changes in light or sound. As a result, when viewing Survival Game, a bird-walrus-chimpanzee with a shark on its rear end may begin to wiggle and chirp as you approach. But, Inaoka doesn’t need bells and whistles to entice viewers. She taps into the endless possibilities of adaptive radiation, a principle of animal classification that relates to evolution and metamorphosis within a group of organisms as they adapt to new ecological environments. The creatures’ radical combinations of animal species and man-made mechanisms are a challenge to the logic of natural selection and therefore, a catalyst to the imagination. In Inaoka’s world, an inefficient adaptation as seen in Sharksend or Double Deer Horns can be an asset simply because the form is so captivating.


San Francisco galleries have been featuring Inaoka’s solo exhibits since 2002 when The Back Room Gallery presented The Microfiche. Her resume shows off an extensive list of awards, grants, and residencies ranging from her alma mater, Rhode Island School of Design‘s European Honors Program to a National Endowment for the Arts Artistic Excellence Grant for her MacDowell residency. Survival Game is Inaoka’s solo debut in southern California.