The Silence Within us...and Between
by Apryl Miller
The silences we keep from ourselves and others, the distances we keep from our own feelings, the untruths we tell ourselves, how we hide, and what we leave unspoken.
The physical installation itself is a comment partially on Death and it’s related to the Gee’s Bend Quilts. The use of vintage fabrics is key as they are garment fabrics created to make clothing for us. We begin our life in fabrics we end our lives in fabrics and we are buried in them so our lives revolve around fabrics. The 1960s fabrics are symbolic of something I yearned for as a child fulfillment of desire. I wanted to wear clothing of these fabrics I would have killed for these fabrics. Now I revel in them and I live in them.
The sculptures were originally created quilting style around the kitchen table in my home as centerpieces for a private school fundraiser. The design concept was mine and there was a lot of room for other people’s interpretations of paints and colors.
The paper images on the sculptures are Xeroxed images of vintage fabrics.
The sculptures are hanging much as a human body would hang from the ceiling if one were to hang oneself.
The Styrofoam is a brittle material and if it falls to the floor, it will break up as a skeleton inside a human body would, falling on cement. The Styrofoam pieces represent the fragility of the human body and our emotional connections.
The fabric strips are not indestructible; they are fragile so we have a sculpture that is composed of fragile elements. The fabric strips can be cut with scissors or indeed with a box cutter. Some of us are one step away from hanging ourselves and other actually do hang themselves.
We are tied together as people, so lightly held together as if with fabric strips that can unravel and fray.
The use of the colors in my work is always related to the celebratory nature of life and how as we move through the losses that accumulate from a lifetime that we need reminders around us to act as buoys, to help us not to forget to our celebratory spirits.
The silver stars because we all have them in our hair and we were made to dream the silver half-circles, broken circles are representative of the human scale of the work they are like arms we could hook our arms into and do-si-do around with. We are invited by this shape to do this. The silver represents a machine, my desire to be a machine and be well-oiled, with the repetition of movement, and the economy of motion. To experience the beauty of performing what is expected. I desire to feel, to watch and never to be disappointed. To not have the feelings and brainpower involved in actions. So it’s a desire and a yearning not to have to deal with the messiness of our feelings. To wish that life could be less complex and less painful.
The holes in the sculptures represent heart ventricles and violence that is done to us and violence that we do to ourselves. The holes were created in an assaultive way – punched in with a serrated tool. Though assaultive in nature there is a satisfying feeling to the creation of these holes and the crunching sound it makes. Some of us care too much and the self atrophies, some of us feel too much. Others don’t feel enough and they forget to love.
The poetry randomly placed on the sculpture is snippets of larger pieces relating to my feelings and descriptions of losses I have experienced in my life or they are things that I never expressed to others so they are emblematic of the secrets that we all keep from each other and of the unexpressed. But I also have added a couple of pieces that are life-affirming much like my use of color.
The chairs on the floor the white “blank” chair is symbolic of our skeletal frames, our unadorned pure bodies and the hearts are arrayed like hearts thrown on the snow to remind us of how strong they are. The other chair on its side (“Pick My Flowers and Cut the Love”) is emblematic of when the beautiful goes awry is thrown off track derailed like a wrecked car lying on its side or back with the wheels still spinning. Even the beautiful can fall, even the young can fall and even the perfect can fail.