Inaugurated in 2017 with Richard Armendariz’s tent-like, wildlife-filled multimedia installation “The Dream Keeper,” the DoSeum’s Artist-in-Residence program is designed to “challenge the young curious minds of San Antonio” while infusing contemporary art into the museum’s interactive, STEM-based platform. Selected from an open call conducted in the spring, prolific San Antonio artists Amada Miller and Mark Menjivar promise to bring the program to new heights with site-specific exhibitions that — in very different ways — bring the outdoors inside to shift the focus away from simply seeing art to experiencing it through sound and smell. An alum of Blue Star Contemporary’s Berlin Residency who’s exhibited across Texas and beyond, Miller consistently defies expectations with thoughtful, research-based endeavors that have involved everything from natural pigments and the ancient Egyptian perfumes to Bauhaus-era color theory and meteorites dangling from clear glass bells.
During her Berlin residency, Miller visited the Vienna Natural History Museum and found creative inspiration in an exhibition exploring the European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission and the discovery of molecular data that gave scientists an idea of what it might smell like on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. “From that experience,” Miller said, “I started diving deeper into other stellar spectrum-based research that hypothesized the scent of other atmospheres, gas clouds and stars.” Informed by this line of inquiry, her DoSeum exhibition “Making Scents of Outer Space” is billed as “a multi-sensory experience that includes taking off from Earth and ending in a visit to a black hole.” Furthering Miller’s fascination with olfactory sensations and the memories they can spark, the project comprises “scent stations,” “sensory pods” and even scratch-and-sniff sculptures based on the smells one might encounter while navigating the cosmos.
A socially engaged San Antonio artist who’s garnered attention from NPR, Artforum and the New York Times, Menjivar works with photography, archives, sculpture and other mediums to address topics both timely and universal — including border issues and the role luck plays in our lives. Eight years ago, Menjivar discovered the joys of birdwatching when a Belted Kingfisher landed in his backyard. “From there I was hooked,” he told us. “And I fell in love with not just the birds, but with looking and listening as I navigated the world around me every day. I began to see a lot of overlaps with contemporary art — color, texture, context, movement, — and wanted to share that with others.” Said overlaps promise to emerge from “Birding the DoSeum,” a series of 12 life-size bird photographs printed on aluminum boxes equipped with corresponding chirps. In addition to pairing the sights and sounds of birds commonly found in South Texas, Menjivar’s project seeks to offer viewers a newfound appreciation for the natural beauty that surrounds them. In conjunction with their well-deserved gigs, both artists-in-residence will host intriguing, hands-on workshops, with Menjivar tackling “Seed Bombs” with the Audubon Society on November 23 and “Nest Making” with artist Marta Solis on November 30 and Miller leading participants in the creation of smelly planets with “Scented Playdough” on November 23 (advance registration required at thedoseum.org/artist-in-residence).