The scaffolding came down in mid-November, and the first panel of the oversized mural in Santa Ana was unveiled.
Mills has finished the first panel, one of four, “Origins, an Allegory of Creative Transformation.” The largest panel, at 40 feet tall and 10 feet wide, towers over the entrance to the art school, which integrates theater, music, visual arts, dance and other artistic disciplines.
Mills, who has been a senior Fulbright research scholar, exhibiting muralist and painter in Costa Rica since 1986, expects the complete series of four oversized panels to take up to four years to finish.
The first and tallest panel alludes to the integration of artistic disciplines. Subsequent panels, at 28 feet tall, will look separately at music, dance and theater.
Mills’ painting evokes an abstract sense of music through the use of luminous color, patterns in rhythm, and an ethereal, almost mystical, flow of veiled forms.
His work celebrates the body in drama and motion, and notes the conscious and unconscious ways individuals mask themselves in conventional social roles, especially those that keep creativity muted.
The artist hopes to take viewers to “the place within us in which we are in ultimate existential solitude,” what he calls “a peaceful oceanic consciousness.
“Through the arts we risk a confrontation with who we are not, and who we are not yet, even who we never may be,” says Mills, whose work has been exhibited in galleries in the U.S., Mexico and Costa Rica. “Through art we honor life with an offering born by dipping into primordial well-springs.”
The mural is dedicated to artist-musician and scholar Jorge Luis Acevedo Vargas, who founded the school.
The unveiling was covered by the nation’s largest newspaper, La Nación, TicoClub and TicoIndex.
Visit Mills’ blog to view paintings and check the progress of the project.