Subterranean Experiments

Apr 30, 2012

Laura Elayne Miller describes the process of her work as an “archaelogical dig.” Before creating any new work in mediums ranging from sculpture to filmmaking to printmaking (and many others), Miller must collect, read, look, listen, and jump into the themes and ideas of her work. In her latest work - an “artistic cartography” of her three interpretations of sensory experience and space - entitled Sentient Space at THE MISSION, Miller based the creation on a prototype from two years ago.

“I just find it really interesting that you could take the structure of cartography or the idea of concrete data or elements from environment, space, and place to combine that with metaphor and experiential ideas.”

In Sentient Space, Miller has created a map of sorts with life-size sculptures for the “natural world,” the “industrial,” and the “perceptive or imaginary space.” Her “natural world” sculpture is structured like a skewed double-helix and features moss, and fabrics and textiles in earth tones. The “industrial” sculpture (a welded metal structure) challenges and addresses the man-made made or structural world. Her “perceptive” sculpture demonstrates a playfulness and more imaginary spirit, yet still works in conjunction with her other two works. Miller created a giant, hand-made color prism of 100 pieces assembled and lit to cast certain shadows, eliciting a mystical quality in far contrast to the “natural” or “industrial” pieces to her installation.

“I just find it really interesting that you could take the structure of cartography or the idea of concrete data or elements from environment, space, and place to combine that with metaphor and experiential ideas,” she said.

Sentient Space marks the premiere of THE MISSION’s newest venture, THE SUB-MISSION. The creation of THE SUB-MISSION was born out frustration with the dearth of independent project spaces for emerging Chicago artists. THE SUB-MISSION aims to create a dialogue with the work THE MISSION features upstairs (primarily focused on emerging and mid-career South American artists).

Last year, the gallery began accepting submissions based on how the proposed projects could dialogue with what was planned in the main gallery space and new submissions will be accepted during the summer.

Currently, Argentine-artist Gustavo Diaz exhibits Justificaciòn a priori, an exhibition comprised of nine new objects and drawings in the main gallery space. Director Natalia Ferreyra said that Miller’s proposal featured core ideas of mapmaking and a dedication to linear, architectural ideas, the same elements present in Diaz’s work.

“We really want to foster that dialogue, to see what is there amongst artists,” said Ferreyra.

Future artists for THE SUB-MISSION include Corinne Halbert, Brittany Pyle, and Mark Porter. Like Miller’s work in conjunction with Diaz, future projects in the space will continue to foster a dialog among local, national, and international artistic practices.

“Alternative spaces have become prominent here in Chicago because for a long time, there wasn’t that institutional support in order to provide exhibition space,” Ferreyra began. “Although all of them serve a great service, ultimately, I think artists are looking for something that will give their work more structure or take them to the next level in their career.”