Works are project-based and take shape depending on confluence of idea and material. For more information surrounding individual projects, please refer to the texts below.
"The task is not to see what has never been seen before, but to think what has never been thought before about what you see everyday."
Silently exploring the mountain forests, high deserts, and wind-carved canyons of New Mexico as a child, I would draw and sculpt whatever caught my imagination. Artmaking became my primary means of communication. It allowed me to see things through the eyes of others and delve into alternate possibilities.
Since I can remember, I have been making art of all kinds to try and understand the fragmentary nature of life. Much as I might consider an ancient pot shard or arrowhead, found half buried in the dirt, and then try to suss out the motive of its maker. Visual communication can create connections with deep and existential meaning. How we see the world is influenced by our understanding of the world — and vice versa. We constantly differentiate between one possibility and another: This/That; Full/Empty; Good/Bad. Each categorized according to a set of subtly shifting assessments. These binaries, which look solid from a distance, and provide a structural constant to our lives, become less and less coherent the closer we look. I experience parallels with these concepts in the formal elements at play in my work, as if I am standing before a portal to a virtual spirit world.
Dan Sinclair, who nominated me for the Saint-Gaudens National Park Fellowship wrote: “[‘Dreams of Our Future Nature’] reminds us, in a most original fashion, that the universe is like a geologic mosaic of realities. On first impression, it might appear uncomplicated and easily misunderstood, while in fact, it is not. It is actually an alloy composed of infinite realities, layered one over an other….
“By presenting two distinctive realities within one work, Miller has illustrated this notion with remarkable economy and ingenuity. Not to say that the work is not serious, quite the opposite. It is extremely serious, but like most substantive artworks, it is not laborious. It presents a narrative with a light-handed touch that engages [the viewer] immediately and shows Geoffrey Owen Miller to be an artist of uncommon perception.”
In my current work I construct a subtly shifting scene using clear plastics that are suspended upside down from the ceiling over a dark reflective surface. The upside-down sculptures of birds, plants and animals, made of materials used for packaging, may remind one of detritus or even shed skins. Light is key to the work. It is what amplifies the reflected colors to a higher chroma.
Erwin Schrödinger, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who proposed a unified theory of general relativity said, "What we observe as material bodies and forces are nothing but shapes and variations in the structure of space.” I take this to mean that, at a fundamental level, particles (abstractions of physical form) are best understood as existing in all possible states of being. Yet while abstractions like this allow us to see the connections between all things, including idea and its manifestation in art, it is our experience of physical being — in the simplest of terms, a cat’s soft hair, its rumbling purr and sharp claws — that allows us to sense that the living are real.
Sculpture and Installation.
In these works, I construct a subtly moving tableau using a variety of clear plastics that are suspended upside down from the ceiling over a dark reflective surface. The upside-down sculptures of flora and fauna made of a material often used for packaging may remind one of detritus or even shed skins. But on looking down at their reflections -- brightly colored, flipped right-side-up again, floating in a boundless space -- it is as if we standing before a portal to a virtual spirit world.
Light is the key to the work. It is what creates the intense reflected colors and reminds me of how sunlight transforms every sunrise and sunset in my home state of New Mexico. The wavelengths of the light are affected by their passage through the clear plastics, much like how the light leaving a glass prism can allow you to see all the colors that make up the white light that entered. I am not a scientist, but my father was. This has influenced my drive to constantly create through research and experimentation.
My mother, a History and English as a Second Language teacher, also greatly shaped how I understand the results of my material-driven process. In the context of technological and scientific advancements—as organisms continue to adapt or disappear depending on the whims of humankind— I worry about how often it is that we wait until something, or someone, is no longer around for us to realize their importance.
"Deep in the mirror we will perceive a very faint line and the colour of this line will be like no other colour. Later on, other shapes will begin to stir. Little by little they will differ from us; little by little they will not imitate us. They will break through the barriers of glass or metal and this time will not be defeated."
Jorge Luis Borges. The Book of Imaginary Being.
“Things are as they are. Looking out into it the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.”
Everyone is a collector. Everyone is a curator. Personal collections may not be as large or well lit as institutional displays, but it is universal to display objects from our histories. It populates our edited stories of the past and present and is thus an altar to an idealized life. The surface of an object tells many stories, often perceivable is the material, making, uses and even the passage of time. The bigger, older and more rare the objects are the greater wealth, power, and culture the owner demonstrates. Working with plaster casts of familiar forms: food, toys, medicine bottles, etc were colored with iron or tannins to manipulate the sense of time. Photographs can easily make the works seem much larger. Each one, even when made in batches, is completely unique. This project started when friend sent me a Twinkie from the floor of an artists studio.
“Time is a game played beautifully by children.”
Heraclitus from Fragments
History painting using watercolor.
Jorge Luis Borges once wrote of an empire that had exalted the Art of Cartography to “such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province.” Unlike a conventional map modestly representing a three-dimensional space, Disciplines of Geography combines in equal measure a historian’s zeal for documentation and a cartographer’s meticulous eye for detail. An otherwise endless expanse is transformed into a profound space: each map, matching point for point, geography and history--whether it’s men waging war or engaging in acts of ingenuity--each event is chronicled by a series of marks and impressions. The accumulation of marks create a layered effect, leaving some passages of time hidden, or obscured by their irrelevance. In both instances, the past gives way to the present, the topmost layer representing the current state of affairs. In return, the present restores order to the past by employing traditional map legends to signify time in addition to space. Ultimately, the choice belongs to the beholder: whether to use the provided keys to sift through annotated layers of a sprawling history, or risk relying on collective memory to fill the voids not readily visible to the naked eye. -Margie Cook. 4/22/13
Margie Cook is a writer of non-fiction and the occasional poem. She resides in Brooklyn.
". . . In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography."
Jorge Luis Borges
Couch-sized paintings in the tradition of landscape as home-decoration.
Images that record the moments after momentously disastrous acts have been symmetrically repeated to become classically balanced. These paintings are created by painting one side and then pressing it into the other side, then scraping the paint off and repeating the process. Each side of the painting was both the original painted image as well as the receiver of the mono-print from the other side. After many such layerings, the original images are mingled among the reproductions.
"The light of memory, or rather the light that memory lends to things, is the palest light of all. I am not quite sure whether I am dreaming or remembering, whether I have lived my life or dreamed it. Just as dreams do, memory makes me profoundly aware of the unreality, the evanescence of the world, a fleeting image in the moving water."
Painting and installation.
These works on Hanji, traditional Korean mulberry paper, are impermanently attached to glass windows. They are created in response to their location, and they also respond constantly to the changing ambient light. Patterns of light and color are created by a process of staining and dyeing and as well as adjusting the translucency. Areas of patterns are then combined into compositions which are illuminated by passing light, much like stained glass, but without the wealth needed to create such large expanses. Paper is the light ground on which dark lines record the knowledge of our history. Besides being translucent when held up to the light, it is also a membrane between inner and outer spaces (as was animal skins), allowing illumination in but keeping out the outer world.
마음이 장님이면 눈은 아무 소용 없는 존재
The eyes are useless if the mind is blank.
Modular, pattern-based abstract oil paintings. Every one painting is both complete and part of a larger work.
Dividuals are an ongoing painting series, which is essentially an exploration into the boundaries of multi-panel compositions. Each painting is created by a layering of multiple paintings transferred onto the surface by means of bubble-wrap. The bubble-wrap creates a gridded crystalline-like structure to an otherwise random assortment of marks and forms, and serves as the foundation for the self-similar composition. The multiple-paneled compositions are not preplanned but brought together afterwards as relationships develop. The work is created by an accumulation of mistakes, possibilities, and surprising successes.
The title Dividual comes from writings of Arthur Koestler about the illusion of individuality. He posits that the interconnective necessity which underlies our fiction of true individuality is a reality of great beauty and hope. Yet the author Gilles Deleuze posits a less positive definition of the term which also resounds with a sense of significant truth.
It is of ultimate importance and yet up to each one of us to define how this concepts will play out in our societies.
"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour."
“An individual is usually defined as an indivisible, self-contained unit, with a separate, independent existence of its own. But individuals in this absolute sense are nowhere found in Nature or society, just as we nowhere find absolute wholes. Instead of separateness and independence, there is co-operations and interdependence, running through the whole gamut, from physical symbiosis to the cohesive bonds of the swarm, hive, shoal, flock, herd, family, society. The picture becomes even more blurred when we consider the criterion of 'indivisibility'. The word 'individual' originally means just that; it is derived form the Latin in-dividuus--as atom is derived form the Greek a-tomos. But on every level, indivisibility turns out to be a relative affair.”
Arthur Koestler, Ghost in the Machine.
“Individuals have become ‘dividuals,’ and masses, samples, data, markets, or ‘banks’.”
Gilles Deleuze, Postscript on the Societies of Control.