Mixed Greens is pleased to present Adia Millett’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery. Portraits of An Escape will consist of works on paper, sculpture, and installation.
Over the past decade, Millett has built miniature, house-like structures. The exteriors mimicked a variety of architectural styles and the interiors were, in most cases, surreal single rooms without human inhabitants. The viewer bent down and peered in through the windows to view dreamlike vignettes. Photographs of these interior scenes often accompanied the sculptures and provided additional access to the miniature spaces. For the last few years, Millett has focused on expanding the surreal interiors to exist on a human scale—installations to be inhabited.
In Portraits of an Escape, we once again encounter installation and sculpture. In addition, Millett introduces a series of two-dimensional works with a focus on exteriors. Through collage, Millett directly references previous bodies of work by using the photographs of earlier sculptural interiors to create newly imagined facades. Her former structures are literally turned inside out. Through drawing, once-static buildings are depicted as hybrid houseboat structures, indicating transience, restlessness, and a departure from fixed references. While Millett has referred to escape and movement in previous pieces, this body of work is literally depicted as floating—untethered and morphing into something entirely new.
Every piece in this exhibition is a portrait. Based on actual figures in Millett’s life—real and fictional, dead and alive—the structures are personified to convey dimension and complexity whether they are rendered in ink, collaged photographs, or wood. Textures, lines, layers, missing doors, and odd angles push the structures from the familiar into a make-believe space where physical and psychological perspectives are distorted. The architectural styles range from colonial to Japanese Modern to brick townhouses to straw huts, but rarely is the reference homogeneous. Instead, the styles collide, creating perplexing, yet confident facades.
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 (four 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 (2007); The Nest, Oakland (2009); and Threewalls, Chicago (2010). Millett currently lives in Oakland, CA.