Divide and Connect
New Works by Adia Milllett
October 14 - November 19
Opening Reception, October 14 from 6-8 p.m
state is pleased to present Divide and Connect, a solo show of new work by Oakland-based artist Adia Millett. The exhibition will occupy all three of state’s gallery spaces with textile and photo collage works. Divide and Connect addresses a broad cross-section of themes including traditional craft and storytelling, personal psychology, attachment theory, Afrofuturism, African American quiltmaking and the artist’s ongoing investigation into the concept of ‘home’. Divide and Connect will be on view from October 14 - November 23 with an opening reception on Saturday, October 14 from 6-8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and the artist will be in attendance.
Working in multiple mediums over the course of her two decade career including painting, installation, photography and sculpture, Adia Millett has used many visual languages to explore humanity’s relationship to the concept of home by using the structure as a metaphor for the human experience. In Divide and Connect, Millett marks a shift in her exploration by focusing on two mediums--textile and photo collage--to present deconstructed presentations of domiciles as imagined relics of a fictional future. The exhibition includes textile works that are largely inspired by the African American quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend, Alabama, an isolated community where innovative quiltmaking techniques based in improvisation of resources and visual abstraction were passed down through generations. Similarly, Millett’s textile pieces are made mostly from personal fabrics that were given to her or dismantled from her own wardrobe. Formal references to styles like “crazy quilting” are also central to Millett’s works, which are generally pieced together through intuition and the material at hand, thus the crooked lines and asymmetry anchors the form of the work. Many shapes at the center of the pieces reference futuristic buildings, homes, dwellings and structures. Millett states:
I’m trying to weave the history of African Americans as seen in craft, with the imagination of a future where an expansive idea of the Black aesthetic exists. As discussed in many conversations around Afrofuturism, so often people of color are missing in science fiction. This work uses skewed perspective, where space is flattened out, distorted, floating, and crumbling. Here the abstracted collage, floating homes and fabric wall hangings become stand-ins for the body as well as visions of our future potential identities.
Visual representations of the future are on full display in Millett’s new photo collage works. Much like her textile pieces, the collages are made from personal material including many earlier photographs from her career. The original photo becomes a representation of the past, often dismantled, broken, cut apart, and then reattached to create something new and other. Futuristic imagery is overt in these works with imaginative structures that often look like palaces or temples with a deep warm color palette that creates an otherworldly continuity proposing a singular sense of place for the black identity to flourish.
Adia Millett originally from Los Angeles, California received her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and currently lives and works in Oakland, California. In 2001, she moved to New York City for the prestigious Whitney Museum Independent Study Program, followed by the Studio Museum in Harlem residency program. Millett has been a standout in numerous group exhibitions including Greater New York at PS1 in Long Island City, New York and Freestyle at the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. She’s been included in exhibitions at the Barbican Gallery in London; The California African American Museum, Los Angeles; The Craft and Folk Museum in LA; The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Atlanta; The Santa Monica Museum of Art; and The Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans. In 2008, she had a major solo exhibition at the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia. Her work has been discussed in numerous publications including the New York Times and Artforum.