PARTICIPATORY SPORT FOR CRAFT ARTISTS
Michael McMillen is a visual artist in the very broadest sense, careful to avoid narrowly defining just what it is he does. "The medium has to be in service of the idea," he told an audience of students at Art Center College of Design in 2005.
McMillen's shifting and overlapping job descriptions -- sculptor, installation artist, printmaker, cultural anthropologist -- reflect the fact that he is a searcher, never quite sure what he is looking for, always hoping to be amazed by what he comes across. An leading edge baby boomer -- he was born in 1946 -- his childhood was marked by a curiosity about the artifacts of postwar California.
Raised mainly by his grandparents, McMillen was surrounded from an early age by things older than he was: elderly people, antique furnishings, objects that had seen better days. Being older, his grandparents also tended to let him roam. Some of McMillen's childhood memories involve pulling a wagon down the alleyway near his their house, collecting junk that he would later organize and create stories about. Since many of neighbors were veterans of WWII, or had worked for Douglas Aircraft in Santa Monica, McMillen often found items that conveyed the faded poetry of war and industry.
The illusions of permanence and perfection are recurring themes in my work.
I use architectural references as a metaphoric language to express and reveal this
continuous state of flux and entropy.
The viewer's memory and sense of reality are subtly subverted by the use of altered scale and the fabrication of elements that are both familiar and strangely dystopian.
With the advances in digital motion picture technology, I have been able to integrate time based images into my installations. The movies blend and combine a multitude of varied images from our popular culture into personal dream-like narratives that animate and transport the viewer into unexpected realms.
Witch of Draconis, 1983
wood and metal construction
72 x 24 x 36 in. (182.9 x 61 x 91.4 cm)
Lighthouse (Hotel New Empire), 2010
mixed media with artist digital motion picture
97 x 132 x 144 in. (246.4 x 335.3 x 365.8 cm)
The Laboratory of Sleep, 1997
mixed media installation
Train of Thought