My Ancestors Are Watching
An Art Collection by Vicki Milewski
Artist Bio for Vicki Milewski
Vicki Milewski is a 21st Century abstract experientialist challenging the boundaries of canvas, film, paper, words and music; mixing mediums in artworks and in compelling art collections pursuing experiences expressing the healing potential of nature. Her work often makes precise references to sites, history, metaphysics, ontology and pop culture. Vicki’s award winning art is internationally collected and exhibited by museums, galleries, organizations and private owners. Vicki’s music for choir and for solo piano is nationally performed. Vicki is also a published writer of articles, essays and poems; her non-fiction book A White River Valley is just completed. Vicki‘s main artistic focus is creating work that is responsive to the healing potentials found in life, love and nature.
Artworks from Vicki Milewski’s My Ancestors Are Watching art collection will be installed at the Beverly Branch of Chicago Public Library in celebration of Polish/American Heritage Month. My Ancestors are Watching is informed by Milewski’s paternal Polish heritage and the dairy farm her father grew up on in central Wisconsin. There are three sections to this installation: Learning, Knowing and then Understanding.
Overview of My Ancestors Are Watching by Vicki Milewski
Vicki Milewski’s My Ancestors Are Watching (Mój przodek są oglądanie) is an art installation which uses artworks from the collection of the same name. The three sections to this installation are Learning: Our whole life is for learning Knowing: To Know something is to make it a part of yourself and then Understanding: To understand is a going beyond knowing, understanding there is more to know.
Images of young corn are abstracted to express the lessons this farm teaches Milewski showing her how to accept her role as the next generation managing this property. But it isn't just the farm that connects Milewski to her father, she also shared a love of the outdoors and wilderness areas with him and so two selections from Milewski’s 21st Century Ribbon Maps[i] bring their travels together by showing two rivers, one they both crossed and one they both dreamt of crossing.
The Knowing section has more corn, yet slightly taller and more abstracted to express experiences Milewski has had in learning about this crop, soil and the need to help others know where their food comes from. Badlands Road Archival Box is one of Milewski’s Archival Boxes inspired by Joseph Cornell’s assemblage boxes[ii] and her work with John L. Foster and the Field Museum of Natural History’s Ancient Egypt Exhibit. This archival box contains an award winning photograph Milewski took of a place in the Badlands that helped her father know her as an artist along with other archival pieces from her experiences in the Badlands. She furthers Cornell’s work in metaphysically combining ideas and objects to reveal the self by working with objects she has created and objects she has found in the places examined by each box as well as extending the term “archival” to include a future sense of self and not just an historical look back.
The last section called Understanding holds another archival box holding Milewski’s acclaimed photo My Father’s Barn with archival items from that barn. Her photographs of Milewski Lake reflecting Wisconsin skies show her understanding of “as above, so below” and the responsibility owning the farm brings. Two of Milewski’s Simple Pleasures canvases are also on view, inspired by her father and Wassily Kandisky[iii]. Milewski connects Kandisky’s spiritual evolutionary theories to her own course of utilizing art creation and exhibiting as evolutions of the self while also bringing abstraction into the 21st Century by allowing it room to breathe beyond expressionism taking it to Milewski’s work in Abstract Experientialism. These canvases also honor her life as an artist and the gift of life from her parents who, through some magic, fell in love with each other at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago and then taught their children about love and living.[iv] This installation honors them both showing how Chicago has inspired Milewski to create visionary art, to understand diversity through living in this first class city.
This installation is also a part of Chicago Artists Month since their theme of using Chicago as a studio is corollary with how Milewski uses Chicago in her artistic practice by integrating Chicago’s history of those who made this city what it is today and Chicago’s promise of what it will be tomorrow. Using Chicago as a studio also looks closely at Chicagoans and their works finding inspiration from their lives, their dreams. Milewski sees Chicago as another gift her parents gave to her since they decided to raise their family in its shade; her parents are inspirations and My Ancestors Are Watching carries on her parents’ dreams and honors their works while also embracing the idea that all her ancestors are still present in her life.
[i] In 1887 Captain Willard Glazier drew his Father of Waters Ribbon Map of the Mississippi River to prove his theory about its origins. This was the first ribbon map made and was connected in sections and was a total length of 132” X 2.7”
[ii] Joseph Cornell (1903 – 1972) was an American artist and sculptor, one of the pioneers and most celebrated exponents of assemblage with his most characteristic art works being boxed assemblages in shadow boxes, usually fronted with a glass pane, created from found objects that Cornell felt were metaphysically revealing of the self when brought together.
[iii] Wassily Kandisky (1866 – 1944) is credited with having painted one of the first intentionally abstract paintings in the early 1910’s. Kandisky also used his experiences and theories of spiritual evolution and thoughtforms as a basis for most of his later painting.