Collective Rage Release is a current project where artist Jill Miller leads participants through a collaborative sculpture-making experience. Participants share their concerns (personal, local, or global) in a supportive group session, articulating their sources of fear, anxiety, frustration, and anger. They write one word describing their issues on terry cloth wristbands using black sharpie. Then they pummel 100 pounds of clay while channeling their anger into sculptures.
The project came out of the Being Human social practices work that was commissioned by the Palo Alto Art Center, September-December 2018. From the Being Human website:
“During Week 7, we shared current issues that create conflict, anxiety or anger within us. We articulated them to each other in a circle of sharing, and we referenced them in black sharpie on our 1980’s terrycloth wristbands and headbands. Then we released our intensity by pummeling 100 pounds of clay for almost an hour. Guided by a personal trainer, we pushed, pulled, punched, stomped, dug, revealed, and wrestled the clay. Our fear and anger moved from our hearts to our hands as we created sculptures that were not informed by aesthetic concerns. Rather the sculptures were artifacts of our actions. We call them conflict sculptures.”
To participate in or host a Release, contact the artist: email@example.com
Being Human was a social practices work created in collaboration with the Palo Alto Art Center. For 8 weeks, I worked with a group of artists who are also primary caregivers. We all had experienced the feeling of being torn between domestic duty and the call — the need — for working in our studios. Every week, we made a collaborative work that engaged one stage of Erik Erickson’s theory on psychosocial development. By the end of the project, we had lived out the entire lifecycle of a human being.
Residents considered their parenting struggles as a catalyst for making art rather than an obstacle to overcome.
Artists interviewed each other before writing their “rebirth” announcement.
After writing their “rebirth” announcements, participants read them to our group and then celebrated this declaration by crawling through a giant, modernist birth tunnel while simultaneously being sprayed with primary colored paint.
Week 2 & 3: Objects Made Safe
During weeks 2 and 3, participants brought in objects they had confiscated from their children in order to keep them safe. After discussing the object and its potential dangers, we remade them in soft materials that stood in contrast to the original object. A toy gun becomes safe by being remade in tape, so it can catch bullets rather than fire them. An ax is remade as a plush stuffed animal suitable for snuggling rather than chopping. A pink, hyper-girly camera is made gender-neutral by changing the color to green.
Weeks 4 & 5
During weeks 4 and 5, we addressed our tween and teenage selves by exploring embarrassing moments. The project had multiple steps: Participants hand wrote stories about a cringey moment they recalled, and then typed them out to remove the artist “hand” from the story. Next, they built an anti-trophy to the experience, commemorating both the struggle and growth they experienced. Finally, we wrapped the trophies in gauze, cotton, string, plaster, and other materials to obscure and protect them, in reference to the Eriksonian theory that we explore identity and experiment with different roles in the ever-changing teenage years.
Week 6: The Escape Hatch
For week 6, we explored parenting’s effect on our daily lives, trying to unpack and pinpoint the moments that felt the hardest and most isolating. Participants interviewed each other and took notes. We came together and shared our responses, noting there were overlaps between many answers. Our biggest enemy and greatest desire is time. Time to take a breath and be idle. As two participants explained, “time that is outside of time.”
I asked: if you could create a clone to attend to all of your domestic obligations, where would you go? How could you find the time you need? Together we built an escape hatch: an island where we imagined a temporary freedom.
Week 7: Conflict Sculptures
During our Week 7 meeting, we explored Erikson’s concept of generativity, taking a look at the obstacles that prevent us from feeling joy. Forming a circle, each person articulated the fears, anxieties and anger that create roadblocks to our fulfillment. We wrote keywords on wristbands, to act as visual signifiers. Then each person pummeled 100 pounds of clay to release the tension, rage, or negative energy. Their “conflict sculptures” are the result of this performance.
Week 8: Final Toasts
For Week 8, we decided not to focus on “the end” of life in the way that Erikson did, but instead we celebrated our journey through the human experience together. We wrote toasts to each other and took turns reading them. I created 3D printed rings for each participant; the word “HUMAN” printed across treminds us that every imperfect moment we have is perfectly human.
The Milk Truck
The Milk Truck was a socially engaged art work made for the Andy Warhol Museum and deployed in Pittsburgh, PA. This mobile breastfeeding unit was designed in response to the discriminating culture toward nursing mothers. The truck was dispatched when a person contacted the crew (via call, text or tweet) after being hassled for nursing in public. The truck rallied its followers while enroute to the woman’s location and once there, held a nursing party in front of the offending establishment. In addition to its physical presence, The Milk Truck was a community that connected through social media (photos, posts, tweets, blogging, and a real-time map of the truck’s location).
Milk Truck meeting harassed mother in Toronto, Canada
Unsung Hero is a video that uses GoPro cameras and the company's own marketing videos to challenge gender stereotypes and heroism. GoPro's slogan is Be a Hero, yet the videos on their YouTube channel feature men engaging in extreme sports (motocross, surfing, snowboarding, etc) and women wearing mermaid tails in the ocean. Unsung Hero humorously splices mothers performing domestic duties and childrearing into the company's videos.
Go Pro videos are shot and edited to give us multiple perspectives, reinforcing a scopophilic effect. You get to be the watcher and the one who is watched. You are the primary actor who delights in the feeling of being adored while simultaneously adoring the actor. Further pulling us into identification with the masculine gaze is the fast paced editing sequences, all set to an ejaculatory, frenetic pace.
This video is one in a series of 3.
The FAB Gallery, University of Alberta, Edmonton 2016
Portrait of four heroes
Liar Augmented Reality Environment
When people put on an AR/VR headset, they expect to be entertained. This project is a refusal. The Liar environment dynamically surrounds the AR participant with a circle of disembodied female hands pointing at them. The hovering, uncanny hands intermix with the real visitors within the gallery space, creating an unstable landscape. No matter where the participant turns or moves, the disembodied pointing fingers emerge and follow. Do they adore or accuse? Over time, the playful attention begins to suggest something more sinister, provoking discomfort. Inspired by the #MeToo movement and the countless women who weren’t able to come forward and tell their stories.
Worth Ryder Gallery UC Berkeley 2018
LIAR Augmented Reality Environment
I am Making Art Too
A feminist mash up of John Baldessari's classic 1971 video, "I am Making Art."
In the collection of The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, The Reinking Collection, and CA2M Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo.
I am Making Art Too
Women of Wikipedia (WOW!) Editing Group
Research shows that approximately 10% of contributors on Wikipedia are women. WOW! Editing Group was a project that focused on closing the gender gap by teaching college and high school women (and non-binary people) how to edit Wikipedia articles in a safe feminist space. During this 6 month experimental collaboration, over 120 articles were improved or created and 38 individuals participated.
Sponsored by Wikimedia Individual Engagement Grant and Berkeley Center for New Media
A series of family portraits based on shouting events in the home. These sculptures are based not on our corporal visages but on the qualities that really define a family: conflicts, laughter, noise (joyful and otherwise) and other auditory outbursts. Participants used a log to document audio events in their homes for 24 hours. The artist interpreted those and created a unique portrait where individuals are represented by their shouting contribution. Any likeness to real individuals is purely coincidence.
This work was made onsite at the New Maternalisms: Redux exhibition and colloquium at the FAB Gallery, University of Alberta.
Performance installation at FAB Gallery
A weekend with my family
Allen/Pell: Parents + 1 year old + dog
Clayton: Mom with toddlers
Moms with daughter
Parents + child
Single mom + toddler
Waiting for Bigfoot
Waiting for Bigfoot was a performance-installation that was located in the Sierra Nevada remote wilderness while simultaneously projected into a gallery space in Norwich, England. The campsite was situated in a geographical area with a high incidence of Bigfoot sightings. Throughout the 6 week performance, a live feed of the campsite could be viewed both in the gallery and online. Participants from around the world tracked the feed and reported possible sightings in a citizen science fashion. The artist consulted a cryptozoologist who helped create a reading list and advised the artist on ways to habituate a Bigfoot as Jane Goodall had done with the chimpanzees. The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) connected the artist with people who had experienced Bigfoot sightings.
EAST International exhibition, Norwich Gallery, England
Frequent Bigfoot sightings here
The campsite communications tent
Sighting reported by website viewer-participant from Alaska
Three cameras: campsite, creek, river
EAST International Exhibition gallery installation (Norwich, England)
Video still from We Remember the Sun, Walter and McBean Galleries, SFAI
Body Configurations is a series of photographs that respond to the confinements of domestic space. Inspired by Valie Export's photographic series by the same name, this work brings the camera into familial quarters and physically manifests the burden of primary caregiver.
Sesnon Gallery, UC Santa Cruz
FIR (Family In Residence) Program
The Family in Residence Program was an experimental residency project made for an entire family. It was a pilot program used to explore families in collaboration with each other and with their communities.
The first participants were a local Berkeley family who attended a weekly potluck at a public garden near their home. After extensive interviewing and brainstorming, we collaborated on a project for them to share with their neighbors. The Message in a Bottle project connected their love of exploration and travel with their desire to transcribe and share stories without digital technology.
We attended a Friday night potluck and made stations for their community to create bottles and messages. We provided vintage typewriters, quill and ink, and taught simple calligraphy strategies to interested participants. We used our truck as a mobile studio for the event and later delivered finished bottles to local addresses. For our FIR we agreed to send their bottles anywhere in the world.
Community event: send a message anywhere in the world
The Brooks: Family in Residence
After 6 months of training with a private investigator, the artist surveilled multiple Bay Area art collectors' homes and vehicular activity. The result was hundreds of photos and hours of surveillance video which formed an installation modeled after FBI profiling boards. A tabloid designed after The Enquirer was available for sale at the exhibition.
2nd Floor Projects, San Francisco, CA
Installation close up
Shimshack and Sushi
Norah goes shopping
Norman and Chef
Les Grandes Odalisques
The artist posted a craigslist ad, "I'm making a video portrait of Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres' Les Grandes Odalisques. Please contact me if you can be my odalisque." The ad also included a photograph of the original painting.
After documenting dozens of participants, the result was a video installation of 20 video portraits. The videos were synched so that models turned and looked past the viewer and at each other. Participants included: a bartender, a retiree, a woman who survived breast cancer, an Intersex person, a stay-at-home mom, a fashion designer, a nudist, and more.
New Wight Gallery, UCLA Wind Tunnel, Art Center College of Design