For years Montreal-based artist Shelley Miller has been creating hand-painted sugar murals designed to fall apart in the rain. Her tiled works appear in the guise of blue-and-white azulejos, a tin-glazed ceramic art. The artist frequently uses these highly-detailed works to comment on the historic link between the sugar industry and the slave trade. Her murals melt, distort and smear in the elements, showing how the sugar industry was tainted by forced labor. The gradual decay of each piece also seems to comment on how we are separated from the details of such atrocities through the steady passage of time.
Miller, according to her biography, presented work across Canada as well as India, Brazil and Australia. She earned a BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design in 1997 and a MFA from Concordia University in 2001. She has received numerous fellowships and grants from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et lettres du Quebec and the Commonwealth Foundation.
Above image: Shelley Miller, Cargo, 2009. This mural showed at Duke and William Streets in Montreal. Miller states the work links Montreal to the historic sugar trade, and the accompanying slave trade which supported it. Here, Cargo refers to both the sugar commodities and the humans aboard the ships. Photograph courtesy of the artist.
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