Santa Clara University

SCU Today

Back to Blog

de Saisset exhibit features two installation projects

SANTA CLARA, Calif. Jan. 10, 2006. When visiting the spring exhibit at Santa Clara University’s de Saisset Museum, prepare for immersive experiences that ignites the imagination, while challenging your expectations and perceptions : Michael C. McMillen’s Red Trailer Motel and Tracey Snelling’s Dark Detour.

Visiting McMillen’s Red Trailer Motel, you will enter the gallery through an old screen door, emerging into a dark room with gravel on the ground and a building composed of corrugated metal with four doors. Three doors contain peepholes, viewpoints for McMillen’s intricate miniature dioramas that give the illusion of looking into another room, complete with sound and video elements.

Featuring the artist’s characteristic interest in miniature, and sound and visual effects, the large-scale work of art transforms simple found objects into a profound viewing experience. “I have always been attracted to the cast-offs of our material society and continue to incorporate such materials in the ongoing search to find visual/spiritual poetry,” McMillen said.

Red Trailer Motel will occupy an entire gallery at the de Saisset Museum and will be the first time the piece has been shown in Northern California.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, McMillen earned both an M.A. and MFA. from University of California, Los Angeles. He began his career in the film industry, building props and creating special effects for films such as Blade Runner. Since 1973, McMillen has been working in the medium of installation art to involve the viewer in the art experience. His work has been featured in one-person exhibitions at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Oakland Museum of California. He lives and works in Venice, Calif.

In a separate gallery at the de Saisset, Oakland-based artist Tracey Snelling’s Dark Detour will tap into viewers’ universal curiosity, while addressing the darker impulse of voyeurism. Composed of a city of her miniature buildings, often featuring film, photographs, and sound, Snelling’s exhibition allows the visitor to look “inside” the structures to glimpse the contents and occupants within.

“Both offerings promise to be universally appealing to all ages,” said Karen Kienzle, curator of exhibits and collections. “Each person will see different things in each exhibition and come away with different interpretations—McMillen and Snelling encourage their viewers to come to their own conclusions about the meaning of their works.”

The exhibits will run January 27 through March 18, 2006.

The de Saisset Museum will feature public programs in conjunction with the shows:

Lecture and Opening Reception
Thursday, January 26,
Lecture by Michael McMillen:
6 p.m.
Preview Reception:
--9 p.m.
A special lecture by Michael McMillen and a preview reception to celebrate the opening of Red Trailer Motel and Tracey Snelling’s Dark Detour exhibition.

The World of Miniature Collecting: A Lecture and Workshop by Kim Walter
Saturday, February 18
Noon-4 p.m.
$20 per person
Advance reservation is required. Please call 408-554-4528 to register.
Join miniature artist and collector Kim Walter, owner of
Campbell’s The Miniature Scene,for a special lecture on the exciting world of miniature collecting. Walter will show examples of her own meticulously crafted miniatures and discuss the growing field of miniature collecting. She will then lead a special hands-on workshop in which participants can create their own miniatures

About the de Saisset Museum
The de Saisset Museum at Santa Clara University is the South Bay’s free museum of art and history. The museum was founded adjacent to the Mission Santa Clara de Asís on the Santa Clara University campus in 1955 and is one of only two museums in the South Bay accredited by the American Association of Museums. The de Saisset Museum collects, preserves, exhibits, and interprets objects of art and history for the educational and cultural enrichment of all people. The museum achieves its mission through an active program of exhibitions, collections, education programs, and publications.

About Santa Clara University 
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its 8,397 students’ rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s and law degrees. Distinguished nationally by the third-highest graduation rate among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. More information is online at



<p>Tracey Snelling, <i>Tenement</i>, 2005. Mixed media installation: wood, metal, paint, found and original images, dvd, soundtrack, dvd players, lights, fake landscaping, wire, cut-up clothes, tv and lcd screens. The West Collection, Oaks, PA</p>

Tags: installation

Printer-friendly format