Permanent Sculpture Commissions
Cecily Miller has overseen projects culminating in permanent installations of sculpture:
Outdoor Living Room by Ross Miller, commissioned by the City of Somerville
This arrangement of four benches might look ordinary at first glance, but a closer look reveals that Ross Miller has playfully altered the standard park bench in ways that encourage social interaction. Located in the heart of Somerville's busy Union Square, these benches offer people passing by or waiting for the bus a place to stop. Arranged in an intimate space defined by a blue stone "carpet," these seats offer people a place to start a conversation with strangers or gather with friends. One bench has been turned into a loveseat; another consists of two benches intersecting, as if they have crashed together. A third bench has a tree growing through the seat. The commissioning process involved convening a community advisory board and facilitating several meetings to define a program; recruiting a jury; issuing a call for qualifications to select three artists to submit proposals; facilitating the jury's decisionmaking with advisory board input; contracting the selected artist and working with him to finalize the proposal and execute the commission.
Korean War Memorial by Ted Clausen, commissioned by the City of Somerville
Clausen's memorial evolved from conversations with a group of Somerville Veterans who passionately wanted a monument to their "the forgotten war." Initially, these veterans came to committee meetings with photographs of figurative sculptures from other cities around the U.S.; their minds were made up that they wanted something just like them. Miller held three meetings with these veterans to discuss their war time experiences, and comprehensive notes were made available to three artists selected to develop proposals. Clausen's proposal used the words of these veterans to tell their story, inscribed in a stone wall topped by bronze sculptures of some of the evocative objects used every day during the war. For his final design, Clausen collected his own interviews from diverse veterans and chose a canteen and trench tool as familiar mementos to represent wartime experience. The names and dates of those who died in the war are also inscibed in stone. The veterans participating in the commissioning process were enthusiastic about the final work. "I would never have thought of this, never imagined it, but it says just what I would want it to say, it's perfect" reported one member. Miller's role involved faciliting community input, managing the artist selection process, and working with artists during proposal development.
The Sentinel, by Fern Cunningham, commissioned by the Forest Hills Educational Trust
The Sentinel originally came to Forest Hills cast in resin, in response to a call for proposals for the Contemporary Sculpture Path, a landscape design feature composed of durable outdoor sculpture loaned or donated by local artists. Cunningham, a highly regarded Boston sculptor with several substantial public art commissions, had created The Sentinel as a personal work. Inspired by a photograph of an African market woman, it is a tribute to both her African ancestors and the strong women in her own family who raised her. Cecily Miller saw the importance of The Sentinel to Forest Hills, which has long been a cemetery of choice for Boston's African American community but has no representation of this community in its extensive collection of figurative memorial sculpture. Moreover, the woman represented in the Sentinel is a universal figure powerfully connected to the Cemetery's role, a wise woman and guardian with complex life experience and a sense of history observed. Miller secured a grant from the Henderson Foundation to commission Cunningham to recreate The Sentinel in bronze for permanent installation.