Developing my most important studio questions often starts with a simple, everyday encounter. Like naming the colors of the speck in my eye or trying to hold the shape of a sunspot burning my retina moments after the M-train surfaces at Essex. I note lens flares kissing the inside of a movie camera during old films. Modes of vision break down all the time, presenting anomalies and effects that slip away from language. Painting not only responds to and describes such phenomenological instances, but by its nature, a painting is a perceptual event. My studio is a growing laboratory of research materials and instruments that sets up the conditions for curious looking, responding, and generating new forms of visual feedback.
In the current body of work presented here, I combine direct painting and printmaking methods with a modified airbrush technique. Spraying finely diffuse pigment in a similar way as one would shine a cone of light from an enlarger or flashlight, I locate and develop an image over hours and days of subtle accumulative transparency. Forms placed tangentially to the canvas act as masks blocking the particulate paint, and leave visual residue. When I work, I cycle through actions like exposing, coating, scanning, swiping, tracing, inverting; consciously using movements and language that generate slippery marks belonging to multiple types of media. Color systems, too, swim outside of the familiar language of pigment, and can take on the character of light-based color profiles or photosensitivity. While insistently painterly, the canvases develop associations to filmic artifacts, blueprints, x-rays, and even digital color. I work on a scale that relates 1:1 to my body and the objects that I use across the surface—but one that is also large enough to resemble a projection screen or photographic enlargement. The paintings’ content is connected not only to their facture, but also to my critical engagement with technical image processing.
Hijacking and hybridizing other media, and the impulse to take a process-oriented approach to art practice, is rooted in my earliest personal experiences as a maker. My aesthetic curiosity and knowledge of materials began with growing up in the Pacific Northwest where I spent my teenage years working construction with my dad. Developing knowledge of craft through demolition, landscaping, and building invested me with a visual and tactile inclination to deconstruct and alter my surroundings. I continue to formulate ideas in the studio out of repurposing, or adapting materials and tools.
Painting serves as my record of interactions with the material structures in and around the studio. Sensing potential in objects, shapes, debris, and detritus, I scavenge subjects that end up initiating drawing and compositional problems. Combining and subtracting found forms, I literally build and demolish a painting’s composition over the course of its making. As in construction work, I paint on a scale that is decided by my body, so as to become a performer or a painting implement. I am both a studio artist developing controlled methodology and an experimental researcher open to chance encounters and prompts. I recognize precedents for this disciplined wandering in art historical projects from Surrealist frottage to Schwitters’ Merzing and Situationist détournement.
Through this approach, I am developing questions about painting’s engagement with the history of photographic media, while recording the surreal residue of my local landscape.
2014 MFA Yale School of Art
2009 BFA Laguna College of Art and Design
2018 Sculpture Garden, Art Lot, Red Hook NY
2018 An Art Book Affair, Beeler Gallery, Columbus OH
2018 Collect, Soloway Gallery, NY
2017 The Painted Desert Pt.II, High Noon, NY
2017 Intoto 4, Essex Flowers, NY
2017 Red Planet w/ Munro Galloway, Basement Projects, Santa Ana CA
2017 Bring It !, Soloway Gallery, Williamsburg NY
2016 Paintings, Meyohas (Solo Exhibition), NY
2016 I Want to Believe, Bomp Pop-up, NY
2016 Untitled Fair, Miami, Disturb The Neighbors, NY
2016 Broken Register, Able Baker Contemporary, Portland, ME
2015 Strike Up The Band, Waterfront at The Art/Life Institute, Kingston NY
2015 Snake Gulch Group Show, New Age Drinks, AZ
2015 MFA Fellows, The Gallery at industry City, Curated by Dedalus Foundation, NY
2014 The Gallery Vault, St. Cloud University, MN
2014 NADA Art Fair, Joe Sheftel Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
2014 Yale Painting MFA Thesis Exhibition, YSOA Green Gallery, New Haven CT
2014 Partners, LIMAZULU, London UK
2013 What Have You Done For Me Lately? 109, Brooklyn NY
2012 Shadows Through a Prism, 109, Brooklyn NY
2012 Represent, Think Tank Gallery, Los Angeles CA
2011 On the Edge: Statements in Black and White, S Cube Gallery, Laguna CA
2011 Ryman Art Foundation, Los Angeles CA
2011 Ekphrasis, presented by Mod Melange, Los Angeles CA
2010 Summer Group Show, George Billis Gallery, Los Angeles CA
2010 OsCene, Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach CA
2009 futureproof, Tosti Studios Gallery, Laguna Beach CA
2015 Dedalus Foundation Fellow
New American Paintings https://www.newamericanpaintings.com/artists/james-miller
Asteroids & Asterisms https://www.asteroidsandasterisms.com/chapter-one/james-miller
The Plates of the Present http://thedust.fr/the_plates_of_the_present.html
Recent Visiting Artist:
The Cooper Union, Brooklyn College, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, OSU