Briefly describe the work you do.
My video and performance work explores a relationship between action, power and meaning. I borrow forms from stand up comedy, dance, theater, performance art and film. Questions are structured around a radical democratic model. Is a radical democratic subject possible? How does gesture inform or complicate a subject?
Tell us about your background and how that has had an influence on your work and on you as an artist.
Going to Cooper Union in NYC was a hugely influential experience. Not only were the faculty, staff and students incredibly smart, challenging and motivated, but the spirit of the institution – a place of free learning – was really formative. You had to continuously prove yourself to keep your place there. Education wasn’t seen as a service delivered, but as an experience that required your investment. It was extremely rigorous, encouraging multi-disciplinarity and research.
The concept of the artist studio has a broad range of meanings in contemporary practice. Artists may spend much of their time in the actual studio, or they may spend very little time in it. Tell us about your individual studio practice and how it differs from or is the same as traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My idea of the studio is shaped around time – a chunk of time devoted everyday to my work, no matter where I am. I have an industrial studio space, but sometimes I work at my home studio, the library, or while driving. I’m not sure how my practice differs from a traditional idea of being in the studio, except that I always keep it moving and try to work no matter where I am. It may not look like work, but thinking is working. Once I get to my actual industrial studio space, many decisions have already been made. That studio is a place of production and getting things done. More free-fall, experimental, ‘aimless’ work takes place elsewhere.
What roles do you find yourself playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I never imagined myself to be a mother. My daughter has made me a better person in every way, and I’m in awe of her, and it’s all really difficult to juggle.
When do you find is the best time to make art? Do you set aside a specific time everyday or do you have to work whenever time allows?
I try to work as regular hours as possible. Mornings are best for me, but not always available. I’m always working in some way – thinking is working.
How has your work changed in the past five years? How is it the same?
I’m thinking bigger – expanding my production levels and learning more technical stuff. Essentially, I’m working with the same ideas – those around power, agency, action and meaning.
How have people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers, other artists or even pop icons had an impact on the work you do?
All of these and more influence my work, at least on the surface. Right now I’m reading Melanie Klein, some Janet Malcolm, and “The Beautiful Fall”…am inspired by dance, music, art history, TV, online stuff and real life.
Have you ever been pulled in the direction of a pursuit other than being an artist? What are your other interests?
Teaching is something that while I don’t consider to be part of my practice, consumes a huge piece of my time and energy. It’s exciting work that’s rewarding, humbling, exhausting and mundane. Other interests – learning new stuff, experiencing new places, people and things.
Miller received her BFA from Cooper Union in New York City and her MFA from Vermont College. Miller has shown videos, performed live and combinations thereof on national tours and international shows, from China to Milwaukee. Was awarded the Mary L. Nohl Individual Artist Fellowship 2009-10, Artist-in-Residence at Compeung, Doi Saket, Thailand in 2011 & 2012, Artist-in-Residence at Lynden Sculpture Garden in 2013-14 and a Puffin Foundation, Ltd. Grant in 2014.
She has taught in the humanities and design department at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, the film and graphic design departments in the United States at UW-Milwaukee, and in the foundations, fine art, liberal studies and design departments of Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, and currently serves as the Chair of Fine Art and New Studio Practice at MIAD.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.