Artist Rachel Miller creates a new, site-specific installation referencing the immigrant experience, environmental fragility, and resilience. The project is an outgrowth of her interest in the connection between patterns found in nature and ancient traditions with cycles of renewal and transformation. For FENTSTER, a window gallery presenting exhibitions connected to the Jewish experience, the artist sought compelling patterns in Jewish art, focusing on papercuts made in 1910. That year her grandfather, then a young child, fled strife together with his family in Galicia to New York. Intricately cut paper artwork has been a common form of Jewish ritual and folk art for hundreds of years. Despite the delicate, disposable material, these papercuts lasted over a century, echoing both the fragility and the endurance of starting life over as an immigrant, carrying little more than traditions and traumas.
Miller selects circular, interlocking patterns from the paper works. Extracted and enlarged from their original context, these motifs are cast into three-dimensional wax shapes. The final effect is a textured, tapestry-like assemblage inviting meditative contemplation. Using repurposed, natural and malleable materials, Miller’s process reflects the continuity of the patterns themselves, alluding to the cyclical rhythms of nature and life while acknowledging the urgent need for environmental healing and sustainable practices. The show opens just before a Jewish holiday with an ecological thrust. Known as the New Year of the Trees, Tu Bishvat is an ancient festival honouring trees and fostering conscientious care of the environment.
The exhibition title derives from a Hebrew phrase in Jewish tradition referring to the transitional time of twilight. ‘Between The Suns’ harkens to our present-day limbo — between environmental degradation and the possibility for repair, between life during a pandemic and a new reality on the horizon, between the uncertainty of dusk and the rising of a new day.