Casting Light

by Monica McCafferty

Koda Miles, a recent graduate of TCC’s Associates of Arts program, will wrap up her first solo show, ‘Caught Up’ at Positive Space this weekend. For such a young artist, Koda has produced an impressive level of diverse and evocative work.

Upon entering the space currently housing most of her portfolio, curiosity is easily pulled to the abstract and thought-provoking pieces displayed around the room. One of the most striking, a twin mattress, is propped against the wall, studded with what looks like colossally overripe bananas, stitched with red lettering. A poem, inscribed on the meaningful pulp of a fruit that Koda once relied on to sustain her through a dark time. To her younger self, she has written: You learned the hard way, I know more than you did, because of that pain…

The banana makes an appearance in another piece by Koda, entitled Fruit of the Spirit. This birdcage, fashioned in the shape of a church, houses birds made of dried bananas wrapped in pages from the Bible, symbolizing the all-too-familiar collateral injustice of being born into the captivity of religion.

All of Koda’s pieces are rich with symbolism, speaking through the creation of an experience for the viewer, often taking simple yet profound truths and creating strikingly unique objects that clearly transmit the artist’s intention. Koda’s pieces fill the room with wisdom and peaceful acceptance of the shadows that follow us through life.

Rearing Fate depicts a literal example of turning death into life by presenting a worm farm, topped with her own dead hamster. And It Gets Easier is a brilliant performance depicting the pain of difficult situations.

In the middle of the room, a giant pink oyster bears a pearl—the Barbie Jeep equivalent of a coffin—symbolicizing the romanticization of suicidal ideations among teen girls. In this piece, Remember Me Now, Koda says, “It can be hard to see that people need you here in the present, although you might think that people would care more about you after you’re dead. And the way we kill oysters is really personal—with a knife while holding them.” 

Rounding out the diverse pieces in this show, a large painting further displays Koda’s artistic talent. “It's a take on Rubens's Fall of Man or the story of Adam and Eve… just a gay version of it and how we were told that it was wrong to be gay, and it’s not”, she says.

In the fall, Koda will begin attending the University of Arkansas to study fine art and will continue her intensely personal and provocative work in what may be a more conservative environment. Inspired by the professors who have helped her develop as an artist, she plans to eventually teach at the collegiate level, guiding others to find healing through art.

Catch the final days of Koda’s show at Positive Space Tulsa, located at 1324 East 3rd Street, Tulsa, OK. Friday 5-9 PM and Saturday 12-5 PM.