For Immediate Release
October 4, 2013
For more information, contact
Brockport, NY – Most people’s childhood memories become idealized as time marches on, inhabited with visions of pets, parents, tree swings or swimming holes. A very dissimilar kind of hole – Mush Hole, the nickname given to the Mohawk Institute in Ontario by its residents – evokes much different memories for R.G. Miller, a former student at the residential school. His recollections of the 11 years he spent at Mush Hole involve beatings, rape, torture and far less actual education than was promised. He has turned his pain into an artistic healing process through the canvasses that populate Mush Hole Remembered: R.G. Miller. The exhibition, curated by The College at Brockport anthropology professor Neal Keating, will run from October 24 through December 8, 2013, in the Tower Fine Arts Center Gallery, 180 Holley Street, Brockport. The exhibit is free and open to the public.
From the mid-19th century through the late 20th century, aboriginal Canadians were whisked away from their families and culture to live in these ignominious circumstances where even speaking the native language of the First Nations Indians was not only forbidden, but often punished. To call what children had to endure in this network of boarding schools Dickensian would be disrespectful to their experiences.
Miller, who entered Mush Hole before the age of three, never had a normal, nurturing, maternal bonding experience. Revisiting the memories he tried to exorcise through painting only heightened his outrage. He admits that he “thought it would be groundbreaking and exciting to tackle – it turned into four years of nightmares and breakdowns, until I realized I had a more fragile grip on my center than I knew. This was as close as I could come with sharing my story. They are the strongest memories I could approach without descending into a place from which I would not be able to emerge.”
Keating states that, above all, the purpose of these residential schools, which were run by various Christian churches, was to “kill the Indian within the child.” Though the system has been shut down, and the schools abandoned, to this day the Canadian government is struggling with investigating the institutionalized horrors that transpired in these schools and with paying reparations.Keating says that many of the former students, including Miller, refer to themselves as “survivors. [Miller] argues that he is still surviving; it’s still with him. It may never go away.”
-end- Gallery hours: Monday – Friday: 10 am - 5 pm, Sunday: 1 - 4 pm. For more information, call (585) 395-2805. Parking at Tower Fine Arts Center: Weekdays: Until 7 pm, parking permits are required. Permits cost $5 and can be obtained at the Raye H. Conrad Welcome Center. Evenings and Weekends: After 7 pm on weekdays, and throughout the weekend, parking is not regulated. Metered parking is available adjacent to Tower Fine Arts Center.
Images: 1: What Was in the Mush? by R.G. Miller (Oil on canvas) 2: Rape by R.G. Miller (Black and White, Drawing)
The College at Brockport, State University of New York
350 New Campus Drive * Brockport, New York 14420-2931
(585) 395-2754 * FAX (585) 395-2723 * www.brockport.edu