at Hills Esthetic
Maren Miller will be having a solo show at Hills Esthetic Center this weekend. Here is some more info. AND the Hills peeps did a small interview with her to see what she is all about. Check it out after the jump.
The Hills Esthetic Center presents LONG GONE a solo exhibition of New York artist Maren Miller, with an opening reception on Saturday, February 12th, 2011 from 8-11 PM; the exhibition will close February 26th. Miller’s work reflects the processes through which one’s surroundings condition cultural production. Her work recombines architecture, art, memorial, ornament, and design; questioning the distinction between abstraction and representation. LONG GONE explores forms that have existed in human consciousness since the dawn of image and object making. These include such representations as: the vessel, the wedge, the repeating pattern, the path, and the monolith. Remarking on each object’s revisionist history, Miller’s intent is to reveal the dually mundane and mystical qualities that these forms have acquired. Miller works in a range of media, blurring the line between sculptural “environment” and closed pictorial space. Her intent is to bring the viewer to the approximate moment when an external object becomes an internal image.
Hills Esthetic Center: I understand from your website that you are an artist and a designer?
Maren Miller: The work I do in my studio and the design work that pays the bills have very little in common, at least in terms of a methodology. Though I’d say my (art) work deals with issues of design in a larger sense, actually designing, at least for me, is about making somebody else happy (the client). It involves creativity and problem solving that I enjoy, but my brain has to do something close to a 180 when I go from the studio to the office.
I am interested in the aesthetic choices people make. We allow objects to become part of our identity, thus transforming both the object and ourselves. The transmutation take place on both a personal scale, for example, as we choose the objects to bring into our homes (and reject others), and in the larger sense, as we decide what is permissible in our cultural environment.
HEC: How do you classify objects, and do you have a favorite "thing" or "form"?
Maren Miller: In terms of complexity; the type of thought that went into it. Is this object ideological or idiosyncratic? Does someone out there think this (blank) is the best of all (blanks)? Were the decisions that went into making this thing aesthetic, utilitarian, the manifestation of some bureaucracy? Those are the types of questions that really interest me.
HEC: What were you for Halloween, and what was your thought process in making that critical decision?
MM: I have been panning a Mer-Man costume for a couple years. I’ve got big plans but haven’t been able to get it together yet. Halloween rolls around, I’m not ready, so I end up being something like “green face paint lady” (that was this year).
HEC: The term Liminality, a state of existing/ operating between clearly defined poles, or opposing points, seems to be a useful entry point in thinking about your work. However, rather than working with true opposites, Painting/ sculpture, flatness/ texture, you seem to pursue additional layers of complexity, presenting generalized form, language and ambiguous symbolism. Is your interest in presenting an ironic object, like Oldenburg’s soft sculpture, or something totally different? How do you deal with the expressive formal qualities of your material?
MM: I don’t think there are any clearly defined poles in my work. I don’t really believe in them. I’m interested in complexity over boundaries (like the “boundary” between painting and sculpture). I’m interested in how one thing informs the perception of another thing, the network that arises. Utility can inform an aesthetic, aesthetics in turn inform utility.
I also don’t believe Oldenburg’s soft sculptures are necessarily “ironic.” To me, they’re about a perception of reality and the mystery of being (like a still life). These are all things I think about all the time.
My recent use of “soft” materials comes from an interest in the way certain forms are echoed and dispersed in other, dependent objects. I’ve gotten really interested in covers--custom car covers, weather-proofed chair covers.
I also think that the expressive materials I use sometimes arise from my secret desire to make figurative sculpture. All of my work circles around the figure, but each time I address the form directly the piece fails.
HEC: What have you been reading lately? Does theory or reading influence your practice, and if so,...
MM: I am currently reading Moby Dick, Pop or Populous by Bettina Funcke, and the Collected Short Stories of Nathanial Hawthorne. I try to read a range of stuff; it’s really invaluable to my practice because it gets me out of my own head.
I’m really excited by Moby Dick’s relation to humor.
A friend once told me that they have a bias against “funny” art -- that once one laughs at a piece art, one is able to dismiss it. The engagement ends with the laugh.
I think about this position frequently because “humor” is something that I value in art and consider when I make it (ultimately I don’t agree with my friend).
Humor is a major part of Moby Dick. The book is insanely funny. But laughing at this book draws you in deeper; it unites your mind with Ishmael’s--you’re in on the joke. And once you’re in on the joke, it’s only a matter of time before you’re in on the absurdity and horror of the microcosm of the ship. Humor and absurdity and horror circle around you, pulling you in tighter, each intensifying the other.
Pop or Populous - Art Between High and Low by Bettina Funcke is a really great book that I recommend to everyone. But theory paralysis can hit me hard; I have to be careful not to read it in the studio. As for Nathanial Hawthorne: I am really interested in Puritan aesthetics and the relationship of the abstract to the divine. And those stories are just crazy. I love them.
HEC: Who are some artists you are currently looking at that people might not be aware of?
MM: Most of the artists I am looking at are those in my immediate art community of Brooklyn, including Katya Tepper, Jake Brower, Jen Spatz, Rina Goldfield, Taylor Sheilds, Loren Kramar, Eleanor Swordy and Saki Sato. In terms of more historical figures, I’ve been looking at Ree Morton and John Wesley a lot.