Last year, Mills College introduced a Nancy Cook Travel fellowship that would give photography students the opportunity to apply for a monetary award to produce work that involved travel. One of the recipients was Mills undergraduate Anise Billye Aiello.
Aiello’s proposed project consists of a book featuring photographs and interviews of over 100 women around the country. Her travel plans include trips to Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Wyoming and Denver. As she explores the state and role of women in the country, the subjects of the interviews will include a letter to the younger generation.
She was inspired by feminist artist, Judy Chicago, who created a famous installation piece called “The Dinner Party” in the 70s. Chicago’s piece consists of a large triangular ceremonial dinner table with 39 placemats, representing an important woman in history.
Aiello is a rising junior, mixed media artist, photographer and rubber duck collector. Originally from Denver, Colorado, Aiello came to Mills College planning on studying pre-med and enjoying college in a place similar to the quiet mountains she is from.
In her hometown, she graduated from the arts high school, Denver School of Arts, where she was a dancer within the school’s junior dance company and a textile and print-making artist. When she wasn’t at school, she was playing bass in a femme riot band.
After graduating from high school, Aiello decided she needed a break from the arts and began to pursue the medical field her first semester at Mills. She was inspired by working at Planned Parenthood in Colorado. After deciding that track wasn’t for her, she transferred to the art department.
Aiello is currently double majoring in studio art and sociology. During a sociology class, she was given an assignment to break a social norm and she decided to use photography as a way to do so. She photographed and interviewed several strangers in San Francisco and through the process found a place where her seemingly opposite majors connected. Through her photography, she continues to analyze social norms and the idea of deviancy.
Using her skill with textiles and printmaking, she aims to photograph sociological images, print them on textiles and create wearable items as well as soft sculptures. Her work moves closer and closer to combining all of her artistic talents in one cohesive piece.
Being at Mills where art and academic classes are both offered, Aiello feels her perspective of art has changed.
“Taking so many academics here, and the art classes here are so much conceptually driven that it’s made me think about art in the world in a different way,” Aiello said. “I was really narrowed in on a specific way of making and specific content and now being here I’m exploring science and sociology and WGSS, and all these different things that I didn’t really know could be applied to my art.”
She has an upcoming art show in October where the book she is working on will be released along with an installation showcasing the contents.