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Collaborative art exhibit displays natural beauty

Rooms full of fabric leaves, tunnels of reflected light, animations and hundreds of colorful ceramic pieces in every shape and size make up the first exhibition to open at the Mills College Art Museum. With this exhibit, the artist, Pae White, poses the question, “What is the imperceptible separation of touching something or being inside something?”

White drew inspiration for her exhibit from the plants, history and atmosphere of the Sierra Nevada foothills, where she took part in a residency with the FOR-SITE Foundation. The Foundation, which promotes the creation of “art about place,” inspired White’s work, as did the environment of the Sierras artistic aspects of design.

The exhibition was a collaborative effort, with White using her own pieces as well as those of Sierra Nevada artist Joseph Meade, who displayed part of ceramic collection.

The show, which opened Sept. 2, also featured ceramic pieces from Mills’ art collection — some of which haven’t been viewed in public for years. The pieces were of many different shapes – bowls, vases, animals – all set up next to each other on two raised areas – one area dedicated to the Mills College art collection, and the other area to Meade’s collection.

As part of her work on the exhibition over the summer, Art Museum Publicity Assistant and senior Abby Lebbert helped with the installation of the many pieces from the College’s art collection.
“It’s really nice to see part of [the collection] out,” she said. “It’s really exciting.”

White’s art uses every different form and resource available to her, utilizing digital art, sculpture, tapestry and even rock taken from the foothills that Native Americans used to create bowls. Other pieces in the exhibit include three large tunnels created by panels of reflective material, with the end of the tunnel projecting an animation of plant life captured while White was in the Sierras.
The animations, created in collaboration with Dreamworks, feature a 600-year-old oak tree, a raspberry bush and a grove of Manzanita trees.

New Art Museum Director Stephanie Hanor said a few words describing her excitement to come to Mills and introduced the guest curator of the exhibit, Sandra Percival.

Percival described her work on this exhibit with White as very interesting.

“It’s one of those unique, maybe even ten-year conversations with an artist,” she said. The exhibition took much planning and collaboration between three different art sources, creating an exhibit that felt broad but still connected.

She praised White’s ability to “imagine a place and imagine an idea in ways you can never
really perceive.”

You can see into White’s imagination at the Mills Art Museum until Oct. 13.