"The idea was not to become an artist, but to see what the artistry was in everyone around me." - Ron Miriello
Picture it. I'm speeding through the airport after a lengthy cross-country trek, when my 4-year-old son tugs on my shirt and exclaims, "Mommy, mommy! Look at all of the globes!"
I was, as designer Ron Miriello muses, on a bridge between two worlds, neither home nor where I came from. Luckily, with the help of my already globe-adoring son, I was plucked out of my distracted oblivion into the engrossing sphere of multiple globes.
The "100 Worlds Project," a captivating series of globes at Lindbergh Field fashioned in a variety of materials, came at a challenging time at Miriello's life, around the passing of his beloved mother. As he recalls it, he found himself on his knees looking at a series of sketches, and he started to make the globes he had drafted on paper for years. For Miriello, it was a return to making things and the creative process, "almost like a touchstone."
With the globes, his aim was to do as many iterations as possible. In the process, he began rediscovering objects he had collected over time, like the leather shoe soles you see in the project's World 44. Fascinated by shoemakers and their tools, he first discovered discarded leather soles from a shuttered shop in Europe. At the time, he bought them with no intent.
"I've collected a lot of odd things, not knowing what I was going to do, only to years later discover their purpose," he said. "There is a curatorial side to collecting, and you ask yourself, why am I accumulating all of this junk? Then you come out the other side. Sometimes we don't see our own patterns."
As World 44 came into vision for Miriello, he embarked on hunts for more soles, buying shoes from Goodwill, imagining the soles "as a travelogue of someone's life." With myriad interpretations, Miriello sees World 44 as an "unpremeditated metaphor for ... whatever you want it to be."
For World 42, Miriello's mother, Anne, a well-known and respected costume maker at the San Diego Opera, had sharpened numerous pencils, which he fashioned into a globe with a bent ruler armature. (His mother is listed as the maker of World 42.)
World 41 consists of two novels, cut in half, splayed out, and fashioned into a round shape. A random caliper he had collected years previously amazingly locked into place.
"They joined together like something out of a Spielberg movie," he said. "That's why I've been holding on to that for 18 years!"
Despite his own ingenious techniques, Miriello is adamant the "100 Worlds Project" is not a solo endeavor. His vision was one of collaboration, utilizing the skills of a welder, a cable rigger, a carpenter and a group of 50 photographers to document the series. For Miriello, it was way to blur the lines and "close the gap between craft and art."
"It's wonderful to go back and show them (the collaborators) the finished piece, have them come to show, and bring their kids," he said.
His current exhibit at the airport continues that vision of inclusion. Under the theme "Point of Entry" with a variety of other artists, Ron's work is placed just above the baggage claim in Terminal 2. He feels it's at a perfect point of entry to the city while the globe metaphor fits perfectly in that particular in-between zone of reality.
Miriello said he is often asked, "Why 50 globes, and when will it be 100?" He answers the inquirer, "I'm not going to do the other 50, maybe you are going to make the next globe."
"I want to leave it open," he told me.
Ultimately, for Miriello, the take-away for all of us is "What would you do?"
Find out more about this fascinating project at 100worldsproject.com and more of Miriello's work at miriello.com
Laurie Delk is an avid art historian, holding a master's degree in Art History, with concentrations in the Modern and Postmodern movements. She has taught classes at Tulane University, and has been published with several art publications including Sculpture Magazine and New Orleans Art Review. Send ideas for art stories to email@example.com.