A dazzling canopy of layered white tulle floats overhead, while
a powerful, red shag, illuminated creation dominates the back
corner and beckons up the back stair, welcoming visitors into an
exhibition that is surprising, provocative and innovative.
These are just a couple of the comments of an appreciative
audience overheard during a reception celebrating the opening of
the exhibition of senior artists at the Mills Art Museum over the
In every area of the museum, there were visual treats as rich as
the refreshments that were served at the reception.
According to museum director Stephan Jost, the show is so
excellent that many people have mistakenly assumed that the artwork
has been done by MFA students.
“We’re really thrilled with the quality of the work,” he said,
“the artists have taken a media-whether it’s fabric or paint-and
really pushed it, innovatively and creatively!”
One fascinating work is “7, 13, 82” by Thuy Tran. Three
traditionally designed Vietnamese dresses in brilliant white and
red are sculpturally represented, suspended from the ceiling and
encircled by ribbons and wires. The work filled the center space in
one of the museum’s large rooms and drew an enthusiastic
“I am by no means a traditional Vietnamese woman,” said Tran,
“and I feel the need to reconstruct the dress and explore placing
myself more accurately in it.”
Attendees were also buzzing about “Life Support”, by Ruth Sears,
a large collage created with pieces of discarded circuitry from
electronics and computers. The artist’s comments indicate that she
attempts to salvage beauty from the astronomical amount of waste
produced by modern society.
Cari Grisham’s work “Furious” is a series of nylon threads
covered with oil paint that the artist had applied to glass,
allowed to dry and then scraped into convoluted shapes, suspended
from the ceiling at various heights and spacings. The massed effect
Jost said that the quality of instruction at Mills is the
explanation for the quality of the show. “The teachers here are all
nationally known artists in their own right, so they don’t tolerate
anything but total excellence,” he said.
Shannon Wood’s portraits of her mother, brother and cousin
seemed continually surrounded by pleased onlookers.
“Mills is a contemporary place,” said Wood. ” I try to mix the
contemporary with the traditional in my work. It’s about seeing
people as more than just an image-capturing them in their temporal
“It’s really amazing,” said one student who asked not to be
identified, “They’ve worked so hard-one student worked straight
through Spring Break to get her pieces ready.”
The sixteen artists have utilized every imaginable form of media
in the extensive exhibition which runs from March 27 to April 15,