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Image Details

Mia B. Adams

Freedom Cake

On View

June 17, 2–7 p.m., during City of Scottsdale Community Juneteenth Event
June 20–27, Dayton Fowler Grafman Atrium, Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts

Freedom Cake by Mia B. Adams consists of a large-scale quilt formed into the shape of a red velvet cake with a mirrored baseboard. The sculptural depiction of the red velvet cake emphasizes the red foods served on Juneteenth​​​​​​. Nicole Taylor reported in The New York Times, “Red foods are customary for Juneteenth, the crimson a symbol of ingenuity and resilience in bondage. Watermelon, Texas Pete hot sauce and red velvet cake are abundant.” The mirrored baseboard under the cake reflects the red cake onto itself, exploring the interconnections of history and present day concerning the ongoing struggles of the Black community.

The 19th-century Freedom Quilt legend inspires the pattern used in Freedom Cake.* Stories have been told that these quilts were coded with patterns and hung in cabin windows to communicate with enslaved peoples traveling north along the Underground Railroad. Tumbling blocks, a geometric block design, was the final type of quilt hung to inform the community that there was a train conductor in the area. The blocks resembled a stack of boxes to signify that it was time for the enslaved people to pack up and begin their journey of freedom.

The sculpture features 900 quilt tumbling blocks with three cake layers to symbolize the 900 days—nearly three years—enslaved people were unaware they were free until news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas on June 19, 1865.

Freedom Cake combines the physical significance of the artist’s quilt-making work with the symbolism of quilting pattern stories and Juneteenth culinary traditions. Adams’s cake quilt is both a celebration of freedom and a reminder of the hardships and sacrifices made by her​ ​​​ancestors.

*Note: the legend of Freedom Quilts have been passed down through generations by word of mouth, however, academics have found little historical evidence to support these claims.


Mia B. Adams is a Phoenix-born, internationally exhibited artist who resides in Arizona. Adams holds a bachelor of fine arts in intermedia from Arizona State University’s Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. By delving into topics of race, discrimination, and social hierarchies, Adams is actively exploring and challenging the interconnections between art and social justice through her studio practice. Working across various mediums, her work responds to ongoing social and political issues and is a visual timestamp of the struggles Black and Indigenous people continue to face in contemporary society. Adams made her international debut at the Ibrida Festival of Intermedia Arts in Forlì, Italy, and most recently exhibited work at Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art (SMoCA).

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