Mixed Greens is pleased to present Adia Millett’s fifth solo exhibition with the gallery. Wall-based sculptures, quilts, cross-stitch, and video signal her return to craft and a persistent interest in removal, transition, and the study of what remains.
In September of 1993, a fast-moving fire devastated a portion of Pasadena, CA, leaving over one hundred families, including Adia Millett’s own family, without a house or its contents. Since that experience and the loss of her father a year earlier, she finds herself continually returning to themes of loss, repair, transition, and the simple beauty these unexpected changes leave behind. Through the exhibition, Millett explicitly addresses these moments when impermanence shifted her reality. Each piece uses symbolic imagery and structures (the spiral staircase left standing after the house burned down, embers, and images related to deceased loved ones), while using techniques and materials that speak to shared traditions, visions, and mechanisms of rebuilding.
Akin to previous works, Objects of What Remains uses components of craft, including materiality, texture, layering, architectural façades, and repetition, to investigate memory and the concept of ghosts. But unlike past series, where Millett’s complex, miniature home-like spaces inhibited entrance yet still allowed observation, the new pieces offer only façades, devoid of entry or space to occupy. There is a flattening, dissolution, and abstraction that occurs in the newest sculptures, cross-stitch, and video, creating disrupted visions with only the suggestion of dwelling or complete narrative; They are memories pieced together.
Similarly, a series of quilts speak to the process of deconstruction and rebuilding. Millett uses found and donated fabrics to create patterns or suggestions of patterns. She defies the rectilinear, ornamental expectations of traditional quilts in favor of varied cultural iconography—from African textiles to 20th Century Cowboy & Indian fabrics—all within her own version of a quilt. She takes apart, constructs, repairs, and memorializes through deliberate connections.
In Millett’s own words, “There are a variety of ways that leftover traces of the past continue to linger in objects and spaces—the fabrics of the blankets we use, old heirlooms, reconstructed buildings. I find the connections between these objects and the patterns in our mind are endless. We remember the colors, but forget the shapes or we replace the old idea of who we were with who we are now.”
Adia Millett was born in Los Angeles and received an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. In 2001, she moved to NY for the prestigious Whitney Museum ISP and a Studio Museum in Harlem residency. Millett has been a standout in NY exhibitions including “Greater New York” at PS1 and “Freestyle” at the Studio Museum in Harlem. She’s also been included in exhibitions at the Barbican Gallery in London; The Studio Museum in Harlem (six times); The California African American Museum, Los Angeles; The New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Atlanta; and the Santa Monica Museum of Art. She’s been written about in Art in America, Artforum, and other major publications including a lengthy piece in Ebony. Other residencies include Headlands; The Nest, Oakland; and Threewalls, Chicago. Millett currently lives in Oakland, CA.