It’s unusual for an art museum show to be fully visible from the street so passersby can see it for free, but that’s part of the point of Chanel Miller’s I was, I am, I will be at the Asian Art Museum.
Previously anonymous “Emily Doe,” the victim of convicted Stanford rapist Brock Turner, was challenged by online trolls to make identity public after she made her court statement public in the summer of 2016. She did exactly that, and revealed herself as Chanel Miller when she announced she was publishing her memoirs. That memoir Know My Name was released in paperback in August, but Miller remains prominent in the art world as well, as her exhibition I was, I am, I will be is currently on display at the Asian Art Museum.
“I was first introduced to the world through the media as a victim,” Miller says in the above promotional video for the exhibit. “That was an identity that I didn’t want. And I thought, if I didn’t actively shape myself, then there is an identity waiting for me that will be all-consuming and threaten to define me for the rest of my life.”
“Healing happens when we are able to incorporate the full spectrum of our experiences and integrate our collective selves.” — Chanel Miller— Tiffany (@Tchen315) October 18, 2021
We are all in the process of healing. Don’t let the facet fool you. Be kind and stay humble. pic.twitter.com/Mk0ERH3UgB
It's unusual that the exhibition is completely visible from the street, and one does not have to enter the museum to see it. Part of that is simply because the show had the bad fortune open during COVID-19 — when the Asian Art Museum was not even open. But the pandemic closure was not the only reason Miller’s show is visible for free for Hyde Street passersby to look at.
“A key part of our transformation was putting art on all sides of the museum for everyone in San Francisco to see,” Asian Art Museum director and CEO Jay Xu told the Chronicle in August. “It’s about breaking down barriers between art and audience and inviting people to participate in critical conversations about what role representation, visibility, innovation, tradition and, of course, beauty, have in our lives.”
The Asian Art Museum finally reopened October 3, but because of the museum’s on-again, off-again reopening, Miller herself has not even seen the finished exhibit in person. But she’s got a more succinct perspective on why her 70-foot vinyl renderings are visible for free from the street.
“I hope if you’re walking alone at night,” she told the Chron, “they provide a sense of solace.”
I was, I am, I will be is on display at the Asian Art Museum until February 2022.
Image: Asian Art Museum