Call & Response
Sunroom Project Space | October 18- November 30, 2008
Nightshade, an installation by Tamalyn Miller, features four ornately printed canvas window shades that cover the large windows of the Sunroom and completely darken the room. The shades, designed to reference decorative floral motifs popular in the Victorian era, are inscribed with imagery and accompanied by poetic texts relating to several species of poisonous plants. Miller is interested in the mythology and folklore surrounding these plants, which reveal dark, hidden histories. Belladonna is believed to have been an ingredient in witches’ flying ointments, monkshood was imagined to have grown from the spittle of the three-headed dog Cerberus, and foxglove was said to be favored by malicious fairies. Many of the plants featured in Miller’s drawings, including monkshood, foxglove, thornapple and angel’s trumpet, can be found in Wave Hill’s gardens.
The lights in the Sunroom dim and brighten on a five-minute cycle, alternately exposing and then obscuring printed images and passages of illuminated text. These inscriptions are rendered in photoluminescent ink, their elusive visibility heightening the mysterious nature of their content. In this way, Miller highlights the inherent dualities of poisonous plants, contrasting medicinal capabilities with lethal ones, and the deceptively lovely flowers with more sinister stories.
Nightshade, installation view, 2008, mixed media, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.
The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.