by Anna Marie Shogren
Basements, if not the home to city rats or a stylishly remodeled guest rooms, are a place where one keeps the relics of life that can’t be parted with. A place for games played with friends away from a parent’s watchful eye, a place for a home’s lesser tier TV or stereo system, and storage for nostalgia. The Thomas Hunter Project Space, an installation space and learning tool that presents exhibitions from mid-career to established artists rotating on a three-week cycle, is nestled behind a ceramics classroom, in the basement of the school. Eric Miller’s show, exhibited in the Project Space September 11 through October 1, quite satisfies the nostalgic yearnings that a lower level concrete room could evoke.
Miller’s installation is a collection of sculpture, ceramic and plywood replicas of familiar household items, largely electronics, dating from a few decades back. The pieces are offered on a workbench style table and distinctively positioned along the walls. It’s a moment of sweet reminiscence for anyone that grew up in the late 70s and 80s.
I went first for the record player, the table’s centerpiece. The machine has a ceramic base painted with a blonde wood grain to match the sleek wooden arm. It looks to be the same model that sat between a set of waist high speakers at my grandparent’s house as a kid. A glossy black album, melting at the edges, matches the shiny black silhouette of a cloud on the floor nearby. Over the cloud lay a gray, hard-sided suitcase, a suitcase that has got to be filled with cassette tapes. Two telephones, one an early touch-tone, bulbous and orange like a shag rug, and one a thick and rather elongated cordless, fit for Zach Morris. A joystick, a Walkman tape player with a set of curved wooden headphones that I’d happily trade my for earbuds. The pieces are spaced considerately atop the table, spread more like the display of a yard sale than a studio, though they vary quite noticeably in size. Some pieces hold life-size dimensions, some are significantly amplified. Perhaps, it’s a desire for a simpler time, or a simpler technology, that has expanded them.
Turning around, a giant Pentax camera is pointed to take a shot. And, near the doorway, mounted to the wall, a TV tray, offering a lonely compartment of ceramic macaroni and cheese. The snack is one of a few items that wouldn’t need to be plugged in. But, mac and cheese does taste best with Nintendo.
Eric R Miller
The Technology of Bricks
Born: 1971, New Baltimore, MI
Raised: 1981 – 2003, South Carolina and parts therein
Current: Philadelphia, PA
Teaching at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, Philadelphia PA
Eric R Miller creates works that poke at contemporary Ceramic trends, technology, and American culture. He considers his work to be Americana over Pop and often refers to his pieces as “junk culture.” Objects are installed within constructions that represent simplified facsimiles of era-specific architecture, equipment, and furniture.