Exhibit explores abuse of Six Nations youths
05:00 AM, Oct 20, 2013
Canadian artist R.G. Miller was born on the Six Nations Reserve in Brantford, Ontario, and spent 11 years of his childhood living in the “Mush Hole,” the nickname given to the Mohawk Institute residential school.
He does not have pleasant memories, and abuse has been well-documented at Mohawk. Miller says he endured beatings, rape and torture, which he has retold on his canvases.
These graphic and historically significant paintings comprise “Mush Hole Remembered: R.G. Miller,” an exhibit that opens Thursday at The College at Brockport’s Tower Fine Arts Center Gallery.
Neal B. Keating, an anthropology professor at Brockport, was the driving force behind bringing the exhibit to Brockport, where it makes its U.S. debut.
“I want to stimulate a conversation on the history and legacy of residential schools in Canada,” Keating says. “Many people are unaware of the history of these schools.”
From the mid-19th century through the late 20th century, 150,000 aboriginal Canadians were regularly taken away from their families and culture to live in 132 church-run residential schools where even speaking the native language of the First Nations Indians was forbidden and punishable.
The Mohawk Institute, where Miller was placed at age 3, was established in 1831 and was managed as a residential school by the New England Company, an agent of the Church of England in Canada. “The goal of these schools was to eradicate native culture,” Keating says.
Keating also has been exploring the Canadian government’s role in the schools’ treatment of native peoples. “We don’t know how many children died in the schools because records don’t exist or are still closed by the government even to researchers like myself,” Keating said. “My best estimate would be that 50,000 children died in them.”
In 2008, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to former students of Indian Residential Schools on behalf of the country’s government.
“The treatment of children in Indian Residential Schools is a sad chapter in our history,” Harper’s statement said. “Tragically, some of these children died while attending residential schools, and others never returned home.”
Although Miller, 63, survived his time at Mohawk, his memories have gone on to haunt him and driven him to create a visual testimony of abuse. “This exhibit has been part of his therapy,” says Keating, who has known Miller for many years and first curated an exhibit of the artist’s in 2008 at the Woodland Cultural Centre in Canada.
Although documenting his childhood has been therapeutic, Keating says, it is not Miller’s primary focus. Miller is widely known in Canada as a landscape artist.
If you go
If you go
What: “Mush Hole Remembered: R.G. Miller.”
When: Thursday through Dec. 8.
Where: The College at Brockport’s Tower Fine Arts Center Gallery, 180 Holley St., Brockport.
Other exhibit openings this week
Wildroot Group was a group of artists in the South Wedge who came together as friends and formed a collective to sell their works. They opened the Wildroot Gallery. The space closed in 1982, and the group dispersed, as they had careers and families. They didn’t stop creating art, though. The five original members of the collective Robert C. Whiteside, George Wegman, Peter Monacelli, William Holowka and Nancy Anne Holowka have come back together for a 35th anniversary show at Dyer Art Center in Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute of the Deaf in Henrietta. The exhibit is up through Nov. 8.
Quilts=Art=Quilts, which features 79 quilts from around the world, opens next Sunday and runs through Jan. 5 at Schweinfurth Art Center, 205 Genesee St., Auburn. A director’s tour will be at 2 p.m. next Sunday; workshops in conjunction with the exhibit will be held next weekend as well (with pre-registration required; call for costs). Museum admission is $6 (free for those 12 years and younger). Call (315) 255-1553 or go to myartcenter.org.
Being, an exhibit of Olivia Kim’s works, will open Saturday, with a reception from noon to 5 p.m. that includes a 1 p.m. performance by FuturPointe at Ock Hee’s Gallery, 2 Lehigh St., Honeoye Falls. It will be open through Nov. 25. Admission is free. For more information, call (585) 624-4730.
The works of five ceramic artists Zanne Brunner, Richeard Harvey, Cheryl Hungerford, Sharon Jeter and Nancy Valle are on display through Saturday at A Different Path Gallery, 27 Market St., Brockport. Call (585) 637-5494 or go to adifferentpathgallery.com.
Life in Remote Places: A Fragile Balance, an exhibit of photos by Kris Dreessen that explore how families living in the Amazon and Nicaragua survive economically and socially, will open Thursday with a 5 p.m. reception at the Livingston Arts Center’s Apartment One Gallery, 4 Murray Hill Drive, Mt. Morris. Donations and some proceeds from the art will go toward funding The Friends Project, started by Dreessen to pay back the generosity she received while there. The nonprofit funds English classes in Nicaragua, educational scholarships and other projects. The exhibit runs through Nov. 23. Call (585) 243-6785 or go to LivingstonArts.org.
#imhereyourethere is an exhibit by artist Jim DeLucia based on photos “liked” on social media platforms that opens Friday at Axom Gallery and Exhibition Space on the second floor of the Art and Design Building, 176 Anderson Ave. An opening reception Friday starts at 5 p.m. The free exhibit closes Nov. 23. Call (585) 232-6030 or go to axomgallery.com.
Hispanic-Latino Heritage Family Day starts at noon next Sunday at Memorial Art Gallery, 500 University Ave. Admission is free. Go to mag.rochester.edu.