Lives and works in Los Angeles, California.
Rodney McMillian creates artworks that explore the complex relationship between history and contemporary culture. In his practice, which encompasses painting, sculpture, installation, and performance, McMillian draws particular attention to histories of racialised oppression in the United States as they manifest in politics, the land, and the body.
McMillian has often used post-consumer objects (discarded household items) and second-hand objects in his work: bedsheets, carpet and linoleum flooring, chairs, mattresses, books, and other objects that, in their worn and stained surfaces, carry the weight of their history of use. Notably, the vast majority of these objects are coded, at least in the American context, as middle- or lower-class domestic accoutrements. They are common in the sense that they are affordable and widely available but they are made uncommon, special, even unique through repeated use by their owners. This specificity is further underlined by McMillian’s interventions with paint, or simply by moving them into a new location, where they can be reconsidered through the shift in context.
Similarly, in the group of videos that the artist produced in and around the Dockery Plantation in Mississippi, or in his birth state of South Carolina, which includes Preacher Man, 2015, McMillian approaches the verdant Southern Landscape as content for his performances. The specific stains of its history form a key conceptual element in the work. Those include the cultivation of this land into one of the most productive agricultural regions by enslaved people, the continued exploitation of Black labourers to pull the richness from this land, largely without economic benefit, following the American Civil War, and the contemporary legacies and continuations of this racialised violence and disenfranchisement.
DESENTERRADA (DISCARDED), 2021
Sonic lecture & sound performance, approx. 40’
Courtesy of the artists