Celebrating five years of FENTSTER with Rachel Miller

Rachel Miller is an artist and is currently Professor in the Textiles Department (after previously serving as Department Head) of the Craft and Design Program at Sheridan College (ON). Her past works like Surfacing, Drift, and Passing I use natural and reusable materials to analyze the natural world, and our relationship to it. She has extended the same practice to her work Between the Suns, but this time, through a Jewish lens. The site-specific installation resides at FENTSTER’s storefront gallery until May of this year.

To celebrate FENTSTER’S fifth anniversary, Niv revisits their interview with Miller, with recent updates from the artist herself, to give further insight about her experience with FENTSTER, working with Tauben, and why the gallery is essential to the artistic landscape.

Between the Suns by Rachel Miller at FENTSTER. Photo by Morris Lum

You’re a multidisciplinary artist, you work with garments and textures and performance, and they all relate to one another. How did your practices and the gallery space inform Between the Suns

There were certainly ideas that I had that were maybe a bit more 3-D. But I think that given the space it just didn’t really lend itself. To be honest, I think the most challenging part of the exhibition was having the right research that allowed me to create the vision, and also to stay true to the gallery’s mission. I’m not someone who always works within specific themes, and FENTSTER has a theme of contemporary Jewish life and oftentimes, I tend to work with patterns that are from all over. Once I was able to find patterns that I really connected with then I was able to really get the ground running. So, after the proposal on the design process I worked quite intuitively.  And concerning the performative aspect, there was something about reaching out to the community and having them donate any wax drippings they had. That public engagement—of having wax shipped to me or physically going to places and people would leave their wax on the porch—felt very informative. I think people were excited to know that it really was going towards this work. It was just me melting wax in my studio, and everybody’s wax kind of melted together, so for me that was a very performative part of the work, and also people just walking by the window and having an experience. 

How has collaborating with FENTSTER  informed your work?

“It has been a wonderful experience. Thinking about my family history and my Jewish identity, and having the opportunity and encouragement to do so, was not only informative, but eye-opening. 

Evelyn Tauben plays such an integral part in this—her curatorial expertise, writing and her analysis of the artwork is critical. Additionally, Evelyn lets the artists express their vision, and her energy and excitement is both inspiring and admirable”.

To read Niv’s interview with Miller about her exhibition Between the Suns that appeared in Issue 5, click here

The five year FENTSTER anniversary celebration continues, with interviews from founder and curator Evelyn Tauben, Bernice Eisenstein, Lynne Heller, David Kaufman, and Evan Tapper.  

Photographs by Morris Lum. 

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