Melanie Miller is interested in the familiar and ephemeral day-to-day objects and beings that are often overlooked. She attempts to preserve the traces of their fleeting beauty by painting them in oil on small panels prepared with gesso. This labor-intensive process enables her to focus on the texture of her works through multiple, subtle layers of paint. She also creates cyanotypes, limited edition prints, as well as objects. Drawing upon the still life tradition, she isolates her subjects on unified, often dark, surfaces, separating them from their original context to grant them a different and intimate narrative. In so doing, she infuses them with new, often ambiguous, meanings. The leaves, flowers, insects and birds, seemingly based on natural history plates, are painted life-size; their small scale and complexity invites the viewer to draw near, to examine them in detail. Miller’s desire in this process is to slow-down the act of looking, to halt it even, in order for one to truly observe what’s around it, beyond all categorizations of language. Fascinated by the beauty of things, Miller represents them all the way to the limit of their perfection, including a hint of their decline, like the slight browning of a green leaf. For Miller, ephemerality is what makes things beautiful, and it’s this kind of nostalgia vis-à-vis the passing of life that she attempts to express through her work.
Melanie Miller www