The Confederation Centre Art Gallery is pleased to present a new exhibition by Charlottetown-based artist Catherine Miller. Installed in the Entrance Gallery and the five large display cases in the Concourse, Catherine Miller: Changing Environs addresses the artist’s interest and research on land use issues on PEI. Miller’s contemporary visual and tactile investigation of this important topic is expressed through the vocabulary of her long-standing textile practices. The exhibition is timely with the provincial government’s recently published “Planning for a Sustainable Future” a foundation document intended to assist their Environmental Advisory Council promote a dialogue on a new sustainable development strategy for the province; action on recommendation #3 in the 2009 “New Foundations: Report of the Commission on Land and Local Governance.” Miller calls upon her highly developed textile working skills to resolve her contemporary conceptual approach to both sculpture and installation projects that explore the often-conflicting ideas of land use and environmental protection in PEI. As an example, Miller’s series of five images, Rising Sea Level, PEI, 2010, could be described both as woven wall hangings and as paintings that combine white wool and rusted square iron nails in a series of rectangular works that hang on the wall. The imagery is recognizably maps of Prince Edward Island affected to varying degrees by rising sea levels. The landmasses, formed from nails hand-woven into the white fabric, are coloured by the rusting action of water “painted” on the cloth and nails. In a three-dimensional installation, Foundation, 2011, we see concrete blocks stacked and individually wrapped in various patterned fabrics. Concrete blocks are hardly the usual material of a textile artist; though the colourful and printed fabric wrappings on the blocks are reminiscent of a patchwork quilt. It’s clearly not intended for a bed and is, rather, a reference to the variety of land use regulations in a small jurisdiction like PEI.
Miller credits her grandmother, among other women, with her very early and practical introduction to textiles. In the early 1980s, she studied at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario and at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. An active member of the Island arts community, Miller believes “that art is the best method to give meaning to the world around us. It’s important for me to communicate ideas and to explore social issues through my work.”
The exhibition, part of our Emerging Artists Series, is curated by Gallery Director, Kevin Rice and presented with the support of the RBC Foundation.
Click here to listen to Catherine’s interview with Karen Mair from CBCs “Mainstreet”