Desmond A. Miller, Artist/Researcher – Toronto

Desmond A. Miller is an artist/researcher who works with stories. His work explores themes of family ancestry, balancing the masculine and feminine, practical animism, and the spaces in between. His practice employs textiles, poetry, photography, and group facilitation to generate something new that bears traces of the past. He has worked with various organizations, including Nia Centre for the Arts (2016, 2019), the Textile Museum of Canada (2018), the Art Gallery of York University (2017), and the Children’s Peace Theatre (2018, 2019). Miller is currently a 2019/20 John Willard Fibre Artist in Residence at the Art Gallery of Burlington and is employed by a community-based research program focused on Black men’s health. His current art project, Aesthetics of the Archives, explores his Caribbean and European ancestry and is on display at the Art Gallery of Burlington. Miller lives in Toronto, Canada, traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Mississauga, and Haudenosaunee. (Photo: Marilyn Ize-Dukuze)

  1. Aesthetics of the Archives

Left: Desmond A. Miller, Nana (archive), 2020, digital inkjet print on silk chiffon
Right: Desmond A. Miller, Nana (contemporary), 2020, digital inkjet print

Back in March, after three years of research, five months of production, and three days of installing the work, my exhibition Aesthetics of the Archives came to a halt. The Opening Celebration was among many events impacted by closures associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, until August 23, 2020, my exhibition is available to the public once again. With a mix of joy and caution I’m happy to share this work as the pandemic continues to evolve. Equal parts public history, personal development, and deepening of my connection with the Earth, Aesthetics of the Archives invites visitors to connect with themselves.

  1. Story Time

I love stories. I experience stories as sacred. This July I’m sharing stories with you. During the necessary closure of my exhibition for health precautions, I dreamt up ways to engage community outside of the physical gallery space. Now, I’m happy to share a new series of online stories: Story Time – a behind-the-scenes look at my influences for making Aesthetics of the Archives. I release a new story each Tuesday during the month of July. If you like stories, and you’re interested in learning more about this exhibition, I invite you to join me for Story Time.

  1. Water

(photo: Desmond A. Miller)

I’ve made a concerted effort over the past few years to connect more directly with the Earth. In that search, I crossed paths with many teachers who gave me lessons to study and exercises to practice. In mid-April, I was offered an opportunity to respond to the current moment in an artistic way. It hit me that I wanted to share the teachings I’ve received on water. What came to me is this poem: Water that.

  1. Quilts

Desmond A. Miller, Every/day, 2016, cotton, cotton blends, rayon, synthetic blends

With spending longer periods of time at home during the early stages of the pandemic, I needed to make my space more comfortable. I “unarchived” Every/day, a quilt I produced in 2016 as part of my project Every/day: Quilting The African Diaspora. This quilt serves as an archive of the people of diverse backgrounds who attended the exhibition opening and contributed messages of self-love and self-care. In moments of heightened anti-Black violence, having these affirmations present in my living space is one way I support myself on a daily basis. I offer these images here; they may give some comfort to you.

  1. Trees

(photo: Desmond A. Miller)

I’m a big fan of trees. They play a vital role in producing oxygen and collecting carbon dioxide to support life on Earth. They also offer shade on hot, sunny days. It wasn’t until after I completed a program evaluation this spring that I realized they offer me something else. Watching trees slowly sprouting, gradually extending their leaves to the spring air and sun helps me visualize the work process of completing a program evaluation. Over two months, I worked with a local not-for-profit organization to try and better understand a program they recently completed. I’m happy to offer this service again and use my art/research skills to support not-for-profit organizations looking to grow and better understand their programming. If this sounds interesting to you or someone you know, please feel welcome to contact me at info@desmondamiller.com