Mildred Howard – Movement I: Villa Sonata
Dimensions: 22.75 x 28.5 x 21.25″ finished size
Medium: glass bottles, wood, glue
Movement I: Villa Sonata is a diaphanous, beautiful construction, comprising tiny vials and perfume bottles. She regards these houses as “vessels of memory” harkening to the folklore of the historical African American South, when the sparking of glass bottles planted neck down in one’s garden was believed to deflect and trap malevolent spirits.
In 2005, she fabricated and installed a house made of red glass at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Washington. The work was inspired by the book “Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man” by James Weldon Johnson, who described bottle houses in the text. She stuffed smaller bottle houses with tiny perfume bottles. “I was exploring the physics of light,” Howard said. “At the beginning, I always knew there were bottle houses in the South. They used bottles to decorate trees and to keep bad spirits away. I was interested in what happens when light hits a bottle throughout the day.”
Mildred Howard is an artist, activist, teacher, mother and grandmother, born and raised in the Bay Area. Known for her sculptural installations and mixed-media assemblage work, Howard has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Adeline Kent Award from the San Francisco Art Institute, the Joan Mitchell Foundation and a fellowship from the California Arts Council.