By Jan Sjostrom
Daily News Arts Editor
Keep in mind the number seven when you’re looking at Beatriz Millar’s bread sculptures of voluptuous goddesses. Seven is the number of the ingredients in the recipe, the number of virtues the loaves embody and the number of days Millar baked them for a performance work that culminates in a public viewing Sunday at Whitespace The Mordes Collection in West Palm Beach.
Millar sees the creation and sharing of her bread art as a spiritual act that sustains the giver and receiver.
“The simple act of preparing bread, one of the simplest foods humanity has, evolves into more, because as I work with my hands, my spirit flows into it,” the artist said Tuesday, the second day of her seven-day bread-baking ritual at Whitespace, Elayne and Marvin Mordes’ collector space.
Ready for the day’s baking, Millar was dressed in a form-fitting knit black pants outfit and a frilly white French maid’s apron decorated with the word “force,” the virtue of the day. Each day has its own apron representing the day’s virtue.
Born in 1967 the daughter of a Swiss baker, Millar lives in Toscolano, a small town on the shores of Lake Garda in Italy. A professional artist for 23 years, she works in many media. Whitespace is showing her preserved bread wall pieces and bread photographs, thermographic kiss photographs, magnetic mandala dart boards, tarot card images, placemats and other works. Among her recurring themes are feminine identity and spiritual development.
Whitespace, which promotes the appreciation of contemporary art, invited her to exhibit and perform because “she’s a creative and interesting artist dealing with the feminine in ways that other artists don’t,” Elayne Mordes said.
Performance art isn’t often seen locally, she said. “It’s a unique approach to contemporary art. The artist is involved each time. Anything can happen.”
Millar typically documents her bread-making performances by shooting pictures of the loaves before and after they are baked. Baking imbues the sculptures with the breath of life, she said.
This is her third bread-making performance work. She enacted the first in 2009, when she baked a loaf daily for a year and gave it away to someone she knew in her community. In 2011, she created a different version of the performance for her exhibition at the Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art in China.
Whitespace’s incarnation is called Eena’s Formula. Eena is a name derived from Hebrew that means renewing, the artist said. Each day’s goddess loaf has a name ending in “eena.” The project title “is a metaphor for putting together the right elements in our daily life to find equilibrium,” Millar said.
Working briskly and with intense concentration, she rolled strips of dough and shaped them into a female form, decorating it with almonds, raisins and dried cherries. “I never know what will be the end of the creation,” she said. “Every one is really different.”
When the bread is eaten it becomes “a metaphor of what for me art should be — a nutrient for the spirit … daily food for one and all,” her artist’s statement says.
Millar’s work also is being shown at the Whitespace booth at ArtPalmBeach, which will be at the Palm Beach County Convention Center through Monday. The fair is providing free admission and breakfast Sunday at Whitespace, where Millar will bake her final loaf at 10 a.m.
Millar’s bread isn’t part of the meal. The loaves will go to people the Mordeses select who embody the virtues each represents.
IF YOU GO
What: Beatriz Millar’s performance work “Eena’s Formula”
When: 10 a.m. Sunday ; breakfast served from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: Whitespace: The Mordes Collection, 2805 N. Australian Ave., West Palm Beach. Park on the east side of Australian at The Lord’s Place.
For information: Call 842-4131 or see whitespacecollection.com