Creating art is for many a daily ritual, sometimes in the simplest of ways: sketching such ordinary household scenes as a sleeping dog or children reading, or sculpting a wax disc every day for a year as a way of marking time during the experience of a debilitating illness.
Yale staff member Meredith Miller ’03 ART, a photographer at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, has organized an exhibition at Artspace featuring artists who engage in such daily art making — or whose own art reflects an interest in ritual or marking time.
“Our Daily Rite,” on view at Artspace Feb. 9-March 24, examines work by local and international artists, most of whom have an affiliation with Yale. Among them are staff members Ken Lovell ’92 ART, technical director of the Digital Media Center for the Arts (DMCA); Rob Rocke ’96 M.Phil., desktop support provider for Information Technology Services; Beth Castle Lovell ’91 ART, who teaches Dreamweaver workshops at the DMCA; Karen Nangle, a public services assistant at the Beinecke Library; and alumni Steve Giovinco ’89 ART and Hillary Charnas ’05 DRA.
Other artists whose works will be exhibited in the show are Connecticut artists Matthew Feiner and T. Willie Raney (wife of Beinecke staff member Robert Halloran), Pia Linz of Germany, Maryna Matusiak of Poland, Nyeema Morgan of New York, and Jamie Davis of Ohio.
Miller, a member of Artspace’s Visual Arts Committee, was inspired to curate “Our Daily Rite” while watching friends make the creation of photographs, collages and drawings a daily habit, then posting their work on such social networks as Flickr and Facebook.
“The advent of social media spurred some of he featured artists to engage in a daily art project and upload their works,” says Miller. “In some cases, one artist keeping to a daily ritual inspired another to start the same practice. Many of the artists have 9-5 jobs and families. For them, knowing that there’s an audience that is waiting for the next installment sometimes provides an incentive to stick with their daily art making while leading busy lives. Friends in their social networks can comment or give a thumbs up. Ultimately, the ritual can become as vital to the viewer as it is to the artist.”
Miller has allowed the featured artists to select their own works for the show. Some have chosen a month’s worth of their artistic creations while others will exhibit a 365-day collection of work or a sampling of their favorite creations.
While she knows some of the artists personally, Miller invited Linz to exhibit in “Our Daily Rite” after meeting her randomly at Central Park in New York City, where the German artist was staying while on a residency. Linz told the Yale staff member that she went to the park every day to create detailed drawings of the scenes she observed.
She discovered Davis’ unique art project via the Internet, where she learned that the artist had made a floor-to-ceiling installation over the course of one year that features thousands of discs sculpted in wax, created as a way to mark her days while suffering through a life-threatening illness.
“Our Daily Rite” is Miller’s first curated show. Her own portraits and images of interior spaces have been shown throughout New England as well as in New York and California, and are in the collections of Yale Art Gallery, among others. She teaches photography at Southern Connecticut State University and at New Haven’s Creative Arts Workshop (CAW). She and Rocke were collaborators for a recent photo exhibition at New Haven’s Institute Library that explored the look and feel of rural libraries in New England.
Miller says her work preparing for “Our Daily Rite” has tempted her to consider beginning her own daily ritual taking photographs on her iPhone.
“I’ve thought it could be something I do where I don’t have the pressure of necessarily creating fine art,” she says. In March, she and Rocke will co-teach a one-day iPhone photography class at CAW, during which participants will take photographs of the St. Patrick’s Day parade, learn to use some of the iPhone applications related to photography, and upload their pictures.
“The more pictures you take, the better you become,” says Miller, a participant in the Yale Digital Coffee Group, whose members gather for conversation about their campus digital projects and can forge collaborations. For the benefit of this group, she organized a talk by some Yale-affiliated photographers, whose work she then shared online.
The Yale staff member notes that the Beinecke Library’s encouragement of professional learning for its employees has allowed her the opportunity to expand her own artistic pursuits, whether promoting other artists, creating her own work or exploring book making.
“It’s great because I can custom-design my own enrichment plan,” says Miller.
An opening reception for “Our Daily Rite” will be held on Saturday, Feb. 11, 5-7 p.m. at Artspace, 50 Orange St., New Haven. Exhibition hours are Wednesday and Thursday, noon-6 p.m., and Saturday, noon-8 p.m.