Migration and Transformation
by Cecile Miller, Rich Miller, and Lynn Salo
July 14 - August 22, 2020
Installation shot, Main Gallery, 2020.
Cecille Miller, Hope Crossing, 2019.
Migration is essentially about movement. At a micro/biological or cellular level, migration is why we humans and animals exist. At a higher/macro level, we can all see how the cycling of the seasons causes many creatures to instinctively move to a new location for survival of their species. And, on an international level, displacement and immigration of war-torn refugees to safer locations, ultimately for survival and a better life, will continue to be a hot political topic. There are other aspects of migration that [the three artists] are curious about, such as cultural diffusion, and its migration via technology.
- Artists’ proposal
This group exhibition was originally scheduled with Carol Wylie’s They Didn’t Know We Were Seeds, which also touches on the impact of immigration, migration, and human displacement. Due to the MAG’s COVID-19 closure in March of 2020, scheduling changes had to be made, and the Migration and Transformation exhibition was able to take up more space in the Main Gallery, not only allowing for more artworks, but also for a deeper exploration of the themes. This exhibit offers time to mediate on how movement has affected our lives, what have been moments of transformation for us, and how migration has affected us and our families.
The three artists have explored these themes in abstract as well as literal and figurative ways. Because it is a topic that affects all living on the planet, this exhibit is thought -provoking and brings awareness and interest to a broad audience. The common thread between the works is that movement and migration is viewed as something “natural” and a means of survival for all. The artworks allow the viewer to “put themselves in another’s shoes,” and generate feelings of “hope and promise” towards a sustainable life of peace and safety.
Cecille Miller, The Journey, 2019, with accompanying audio by Richard Miller.
Despite the differences in media, all of the artists’ works speak to each other. A strong exhibition will always create a greater meaning than the sum of the individual works, and these three artists have done that in a unified way. Words on the globe Imagine, very clearly articulate Cecile’s thoughts and gives the viewer a starting point of language from which to explore the themes, while works like Hope Crossing merge language, data, images, with the illustration of one of the primary means of migration to North America / Turtle Island; both in the past with the first waves of immigrant European settlers, in the late 19th and 20th century, Asian, Indian & Jewish refugees and immigrants, and most recently, Syrian refugees. Rich’s audio work directly ties his compositions to Lynn and Cecile’s work, and—literally—sets a tone for the experience as visitors enter the Gallery. His sounds stand alone as audio artworks, but activate the sculptures and paintings in unique ways. Lynn’s works run the spectrum from abstract concepts of movement and change (sound waves, shifting tectonic plates, primal amino acids in space, the movement of the heavenly bodies) to darker themes like the migration of both positive and negative ideologies, and reasons for migration (chaos, violence, death).
Lynn Salo, Corpse River, 2019, with accompanying audio by Richard Miller.
This is a personal exhibition, as the artists have created works from their own life experiences and those of their family members, as well as placing those personal narratives into the wider historical and contemporary global context. It’s a complicated, multifaceted topic, and we are thankful for Cecile, Rich, and Lynn for sharing their own personal family histories and explorations of the topic in such a beautiful way.
The Mann Art Gallery also thanks Cecile, Rich and Lynn for being so flexible and understanding the difficulties associated with planning for a show that may not have been mounted during our COVID-19 closure. These artists have been so generous and accommodating as we all worked to exhibit the best show we could under the circumstances. The MAG is pleased with how their work now fills the entire Main Gallery to create a fuller experience of the themes.