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Dan Mills: Interferences

Carol Schlosberg Gallery

August 24, 2015 - September 19, 2015

Reception: Thursday, September 10, 5-7:30pm

Mills is interested in visualizing information both through additive mark making and erasure. The inclusion of found, vintage geographical maps and the practice of painting directly on to the maps has been a recurring facet of the artist’s work for several years. Mills sources are as diverse as children’s atlases and classroom maps. The series explores history, geopolitics and current events.

The artist addresses changes to the landscape as a result of conflict and highlights hidden geographical information. His mark-making decisions, such as color and shape choices, are guided by rules or game-like strategy. Mills paints over political boundaries, dates, keys, and names of human-made and natural landmarks- information usually based on histories of conquest and imperialism. This all disappears beneath variegated fields of painted color that gradually informs the translation of collective research and collated data into a visual language.

Interferences features a large-scale mural by Mills and alumni Kevin Lucey ’15. The scale of Current Wars & Conflicts, Belligerents and Supporter Data Visualized (2015) amplifies the traditional facets of Mills’ smaller works on paper. Twelve feet of gallery wall is covered in a printed decal of a world map. Originally taken from an online source, Mills “reworked” the map in Photoshop before printing it. For instance, the muted fields of blue indicating bodies of water, are patterned into a two-tone blue checkerboard. Mills does this to clearly reference the strategy of seizing land as if in a game of chess. Mills blurs other indicators, such as text, to disconnect the viewer from language. As a result, visual cues like shape and color become the method of identifying place.

For several weeks, Mills recorded information that would eventually become the visualized data on the mural. He explored a variety of subjects: How many conflicts each country is currently active in, the number of belligerents affiliated within each country, death counts, etc. With the help of Lucey, the artists marked each country with the visual representation of their collected data. An adjacent key aides in correlating to the viewer the relationship between the more layered a mark is, the higher numerical value associated with a country’s political state.

Since 2009, Mills has had solo shows at George Billis Gallery in New York, the Chicago Cultural Center, Sherry Frumkin Gallery in Santa Monica, Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago, Union College in Schenectady, NY, and Tianjin Academy of Fine Arts Museum in China. He has participated in several group exhibitions including: Dissident Futures at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco; Remix: Selections from the International College Center (traveling nationally), and Party Headquarters: Voting is Just the Beginning at Pratt Manhattan Gallery. Collections include the British Library, John D. & Catherine C. MacArthur Foundation, Chicago, JPMorgan Chase, New York, Library of Congress, Washington, DC, and UCLA. He is represented by George Billis Gallery in New York and Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago. Mills presently is the Director of the Bates College Museum of Art and Lecturer in the Humanities.