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Miles Toland in India

: Miles Toland "Meta.Morph.Oasis" 2013; oil, acrylic, and aerosol on panels with video projections from mixed media pedestals and sound-immersive viewing pedestal. Video courtesy of the artist and milestoland.com.

Miles Toland in India

: Miles Toland painting in Goa. Photo courtesy of the artist.

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Cornish alumnus Miles Toland follows his interest in Eastern thought to Goa, on the west coast of India.

Miles Toland (AR ’13) is a visionary artist: maybe not in the historical sense (because History, after all, will decide that issue in years to come), but in that he is so singularly focused on visions themselves. Visions are not a “subject” for him, suitable for a nice gallery series; the pursuit of visions is central to the life he leads. Toland’s interest in Eastern religion and philosophy is front-and-center in most of his paintings and installations. Seeking, as he does, transcendence and “the purpose of human experience” it his art practice, it is not unusual that Toland would find himself drawn to India and to the state of Goa particularly, where he has just closed a solo exhibition called Driftwood at the Vaayu Vision Collective Gallery.

Goa is a favorite destination for artists. No part of India is more of an oddball than the tiny state of Goa. From 1510 all the way through 1961, it was a trading colony governed by Portugal, a situation not unlike British Hong Kong. Even before the Portuguese took possession of the region, legend has it that early Christians, including Saint Bartholomew, evangelized there. Given this history it has, not surprisingly, a large Christian population. Because of the long-standing coexistence between the Christians and Hindus and its reliance on trading relationships, Goa is known for its peaceful, live-and-let-live, alternative lifestyle. The state is a magnet for free-thinkers, environmentalists, and spiritual explorers.

The collection of Miles Toland’s paintings shown at the Vaayu Vision Collective Gallery as Driftwood was created during an artist residency program there. Toland created the work during the first two months of 2014; it was exhibited in Vaayu’s rooftop gallery until April 1.

The Goa gallery described Toland’s Driftwood exhibition as “inspired by the journeys of discarded and wandering pieces of scrap wood that become weathered with stories and defined by the elements.” The artist collected scrap wood from various sources and let the surface conditions and weather-worn shapes guide his work. “The unique shape and material of the panels inform the composition and content of each painting. The figures in the paintings melt into and emerge out of the wood grain to depict a sacred union with nature.”

Those who recall his incredible room in last year’s EXPO BFA exhibition understand Toland’s intelligent and multifaceted take on Eastern philosophies. The installation was Meta.Morph.Oasis (see the video above), which he calls “a painting projection sound immersive experience.” The work combined ancient thought, traditional painting, modern video projections and visceral sound; it was arguably the hit of the show. The work is now in a private collection and mounted at an undisclosed location on the Microsoft campus. His work effortlessly appropriates modern technology for spiritual purposes. “I’m inspired by Eastern spiritual philosophies,” said Toland in an interview with Indian art and culture site, Homegrown. “I’m cultivating my relationship with the various energy systems of my being that yogic cultures have referred to as chakras.”

Toland plans to be in Delhi in April. After that, he expects to return to the States in mid-May to be in residence as a painter among the many artists of all stripes taking part in Lightning in a Bottle [http://lightninginabottle.org/], the freewheeling music festival and culture fair held in Bradley, CA.


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