You may have noticed the multi-colored wings inside the Brentwood studio—or even been told to “turn to the wings” by an instructor guiding you during single-legged squats—but what are the wings really about?
For starters, you may recognize the aesthetic from outdoor neighborhoods around L.A., or at the very least from your friends’ Instagram feeds or strangers’ online dating profiles.
Our wings at Pilates Platinum are by the same artist!
Colette Miller, famed street artist known internationally for her wings, hand-painted this set for us to simulate the look of her outdoor street pieces.
From blogs to social media to mainstream publications to museum exhibitions and even to university classrooms, street art has taken over the world—the art world or otherwise.
Regardless of whether we self-identify as art enthusiasts, city-dwellers tend to notice tags they pass on their way to work, want to snap that selfie with an outdoor mural and feel compelled to spout their opinion on Banksy.
We don’t have to carve out an entire day to see quality art anymore—for instance at the Getty, swerving down a narrow parking ramp only to wait for a tram to take us to that gleaming, pinkish, travertine palace.
Today we can discover equally transformative art on our neighborhood sidewalks, local freeway ramp, and now on a wall we look at when we’re working out.
Street art allows the world of aesthetics to integrate with the world of everyday life in a seamless and accessible way.
One of the most sophisticated voices on the street scene today is Colette Miller.
Whereas the majority of street art is provocative, large and positioned well above eye-level, Miller’s work is soft, delicate, human-scaled and positioned only a foot or so off the ground—like a tender, unexpected surprise.
Miller began her life as a street artist in the 1980s painting on billboards in Richmond, Virginia and in the ‘90s she transitioned to painting on the sides of moving trucks in New York City and on outdoor walls in South Africa.
Appropriately, she launched her Global Angel Wings project in Los Angeles, the city of Angels.
One day, while stuck in infamous L.A. freeway traffic, Miller started to notice the buildings along the freeway more thoughtfully than she had before. She started recognizing how flat they were, utterly devoid of personality with vacant facades.
She began to see the potential of these buildings as inspirationally blank canvases and hosts of a vision, a global initiative, that could symbolize collective goodness and radiate nourishing energy to any city-dweller who needs it.
Meditating on these buildings, Miller kept thinking how much more alive they would be if there were angel wings on them. How much more alive the city would be.
Since her practice is firmly planted in a desire to spread positivity, Miller picks her locations purposefully and often installs wings in neighborhoods that need the most reinvigorating.
For example, there are several pairs in Juarez, which is a base for Mexican drug cartels and also in the slums of Kenya that continues to bear witness to constant crimes.
Miller’s wings are guardian angels for all of us—they silently witness, guide, support and enliven. They remind us of a higher power—the power of spirituality, religion, beauty, art and love—and in an age when so many communities are fractured by negativity, hers is a simple and effective symbol of cohesion.
The wings themselves are nostalgically reminiscent of the panels painted by Fra Angelico in the early 1400s during the Italian Renaissance.
They possess an aura, a glow, a presence that is both otherworldly and universal. They are also incomplete.
Although Miller’s wings allude to benevolent angels, where we expect to see the body of that being we are met with a void and a challenge instead.
To me, the aspect of the wings that makes the most impact and is the most relevant to our digital age is their invitation to us to interact.
Miller strategically installs the wings on human level and without body in the middle, encouraging us to stand in that void and activate the work with our earthly bodies.
The wings beckon us to step in the middle, put them on and become an angel who walks on the earth. This pact, this opportunity, not only inspires us to be our best most loving selves, but also serves as a powerful reminder of the underlying good we should expect in others in turn.