Melissa Miller
Melissa Miller: Paintings

Talley Dunn Gallery
January 11 – February 15, 2014

With the nine oil paintings and three works on paper that comprise the exhibition, Miller continues to explore the narrative potential of the animal world by revisiting many of the themes that she has surveyed in her work for the past thirty years, including the relationship between predator and prey, the effect of changing habitats upon both flora and fauna, the folly of our human sense of control over nature, and the passage of time.

As the artist makes clear in her exhibition statement: “I work from the simple assumption that the collective story of my little piece of geography with its many inhabitants shares fundamental similarities to other closely observed locations. Through allegorical representation, my paintings portray shared dramas experienced by humans and animals alike–survival, deceit, wonder, anxiety, aspects of change, and transition. In recent years I have focused on changes in animal husbandry, dwindling wilderness habitats, and new patterns of animal behavior and migration. For a variety of reasons, exotic animals have been imported into the central Texas environment, and this practice has led to some startling juxtapositions of wild and domesticated breeds. Natural habitats for native species continue to shrink and become littered with human detritus. Reacting to changing climates and circumstances, plants, animals, reptiles, and insects all must negotiate new positions and altered ways of life or face extinction. And yet, new realities, disasters, or despoiled areas can possess their own sense of tragic, unexpected beauty.”

This discarded debris is seen within major works such as Wild Grapes and Tulip Magnolias and Ghost Net, in which animals have become entangled in the plastic bags, ropes, and tire treads that are all too common today in our experience of the landscape. Miller renders all with an expressive brush, with equal parts exquisite detail and painterly delight.

A fifth-generation Texan, Melissa Miller currently lives and works in Austin. The artist earned her B.F.A. degree from the University of New Mexico, and from 1998 to 2011 she taught at the University of Texas at Austin. Miller’s artwork has been shown extensively throughout the country, including solo and group exhibitions at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, New York; The Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; the New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California; The New Museum, New York, New York; the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas; The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; and the Dallas Museum of Art, Texas. Miller first gained national recognition after her work was included in two prestigious exhibitions, the Whitney Biennial of 1983 and “Paradise Lost/Paradise Regained: American Visions of the New Decade”, which presented the work of twenty-four American artists at the U. S. Pavilion for the 41st Venice Biennale in 1984.

The artist’s paintings are featured in many public collections, such as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas; the Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas; The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; the El Paso Museum of Art, Texas; and the Dallas Museum of Art, Texas.