A new, site-specific installation referencing the immigrant experience, environmental fragility, and resilience. Artist Rachel Miller creates a textured, tapestry-like waxen assemblage taking inspiration from Jewish art traditions and speaking to the urgent need for ecological healing. The motifs in this sculptural work – composed of wax-cast forms – are extracted and enlarged from papercuts, a common form of Jewish ritual and folk art for hundreds of years. Miller researched paper artwork made in 1910 – the year her grandfather, then a young child, fled with his family to New York from Galicia. Despite the delicate, disposable material, the papercuts that inspired this project endured over a century, echoing the fragility and the durability of starting life over as an immigrant, as her relatives did, carrying little more than traditions and traumas. The artist incorporated natural, reusable and repurposed materials, including drippings from Shabbat candles collected from across Toronto’s Jewish community. Her process reflects the continuity of the patterns, alluding to the cyclical rhythms of nature and life while acknowledging the imperative to adopt sustainable practices. The exhibition title – Between the Suns – derives from a Hebrew phrase in Jewish tradition referring to the transitional time of twilight. This exhibition harkens to our present-day limbo – between environmental degradation and the possibility for repair, between life during a pandemic and a new reality on the horizon, between the uncertainty of dusk and the rise of a promising day.
Presented as part of the DesignTO Festival, January 22-31, 2021
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Rachel Miller is an artist, educator, design consultant, and researcher from New York and based in Toronto. Through sculpture, installation, performance, and garment, Miller’s work explores environmental patterns and how they interconnect with our own patterns of growth, departure, and rejuvenation. Using both the body and landscape as subject and action, she coalesces topics from ritual, archaeology, architecture, travel, transformation, ecology, pattern, and nature. Her work examines the constant resurfacing of the past and its integration with the present. Miller received her MFA in Fiber from the Cranbrook Academy of Art and her BFA in Craft and Material Studies/ Fiber from the University of the Arts. She has taught textile design, fiber & material studies, and sustainable practices for over 16 years at Pratt Institute (NY), University of the Arts (PA), Fashion Institute of Technology (NY), Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, and National Institute of Design/ NID in India. She is currently Professor in the Textiles Department (after previously serving as Department Head) of the Craft and Design Program at Sheridan College (ON). Miller’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and can be found in private and public collections.
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