James Miller

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.

b. 1986


2014    MFA Yale School of Art

2009    BFA Laguna College of Art and Design


Selected Exhibitions


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


Featured In:

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