Image courtesy the artist, Haines Gallery, and Galerie du Monde.
Photo: Hope Lundblad.
September 16, 2023 – February 18, 2024
Adia Millett, Wisdom Keepers
Wisdom Keepers, a solo exhibition by Adia Millett, explores the parallels and interplay between a craftswoman and a warrior. In both cases “martial arts” is an intricate set of techniques and skills used with the intentions of protecting, preserving, and building a community and its culture. While the tools used in this process differ for the soldier and the quilter, put side by side a shared story is revealed, providing a new perspective of our ancestral past, and perhaps our future. Power, endurance, and resourcefulness reveal the cultural interplay between tribal war and post-slavery reconstruction. As exhibited by the title, the characters and tools crafted in this exhibition act as keepers of knowledge, guidance and keen judgment.
Millett’s new work is a response to an in-depth look at the African American quilt collection at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA). Through three-dimensional “future relics,” such as quilted sculptures, paintings, glass shields, crocheted spears and an immersive sound sculpture, Millett invites her viewers to enter an abstract narrative. The space becomes a shrine and a spiritual battlefield simultaneously. The four quilts from BAMPFA present the viewer with a foundation for which Millett’s lineage of fabric, formal composition, and use of color palette derive from.
The craft components in this exhibition range from weaving, crochet, quilting, paint, and fused glass, each reflecting on our physical relationship to our earthly environment. In addition, Millett will collaborate with Bay Area dance performers, sound artists, and crafters to further develop the interplay between our ancient past, present day, and distant future.
Wisdom Keepers at the ICA San José has been made possible thanks to support from Michelle Branch, Tad Freese and Brook Hartzell, Pamela and David Hornik, and Wanda Kownacki, along with the SJICA Board-directed 2020 Fund. Generous additional support has been provided by Galerie du Monde and the Haines Gallery. In-kind support has been provided by Kelly Moore Paints. Programs and exhibitions at the ICA are made possible with thanks to generous support from the City of San José’s Office of Cultural Affairs; along with significant support from Applied Materials, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Lipman Family Foundation, and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation; along with additional support from SVCreates.
The ICA San José is thrilled to be partnered for the exhibition with the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archives (BAMPFA) and the San José Museum of Quilts & Textiles (SJMQT). Guest Scholar Jacqueline Francis, Ph.D., Professor, History of Art and Visual Culture, California College of the Arts, will join the ICA San José for the interpretive gallery text. Curated by Zoë Latzer, Curator and Director of Public Programs.
About Adia Millett
Adia Millett, originally from Los Angeles, received her BFA from the University of California, Berkeley and an MFA from the California Institute of Arts. She has exhibited at prominent institutions including the New Museum, New York; P.S. 1, New York; Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco; Oakland Museum, CA; Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Santa Monica Museum of Art, CA; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Atlanta; The Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans; Barbican Gallery, London, San Jose Quilt and Textile Museum; California African American Museum, Los Angeles and di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art in Napa. Millett has taught at Columbia College in Chicago, UC Santa Cruz, Cooper Union in NY, and California College of the Arts. She is currently based in Oakland, California.