Trace Miller: Pulp Fiction | Opening Reception
Thursday, May 25 :: 6-8pm | Ongoing through July 29
@ Goya Contemporary
On View: May 13 – July 29, 2023
Reception: May 25, 2023, from 6:00 to 8:00pm
Landscape painting takes some imaginative turns in the deft hands of American Painter Trace Miller (B.1955, Johnstown, PA). Known for his union of abstracted realism, lush manipulation of materials, and interrogation of surfaces, Miller doesn’t “paint” the landscape per say, but rather interprets the gestural and linear quality of the landscape as energy, which triggers an exploration of materials.
As subject within artistic practice, landscape certainly has a long history spanning centuries of interpretation — not only in observation of landscape, but in examination of the cultural, transcendent, and temporal characteristics of landscape’s evolution in the context of humanity. As we come to understand more about trees and their human-like characteristics– such as their capacity to build families, nurture children, communicate, share resources, and offer warnings of apparent danger to their tree kin– our capacity and desire to study the landscape and examine its many abstract facets have developed with intensity, awe, curiosity, and in some cases, a penetrating focus on beauty.
“Life is adaptation to the environment. [It is] energy driven; confined by nature” says Trace Miller. “Art is an interpretation or reaction to that ever evolving dynamic; and the best representation visually is where that intersection occurs- whether within or without of a particular object of our environment. For me, trees have long held such a fascination.”
Painting on pulp paper–a construct aligned with the corporal makeup of trees– connects and engages with the subject in a complex, meaningful way. In addition to painting on canvas, Miller does this: he paints on paper, sometimes deconstructing his painted compositions by cutting and/or tearing its parts into tiny tile-like strips, only to reconfigure them into a new form, but still with the subject of landscape. Is this landscape deconstructed and reconstructed? Is this landscape broken down into metaphorical cells that reform in Millers hands? Is this fiction, based on a subset of ostensible realities? Hence Miller’s selection of the exhibition’s title, Pulp Fiction. “Most of the pieces were made during the pandemic as part of what I call The Paper Forest Series (19 in all), which further led to the show’s title. Whether on canvas or paper…” confirmed the artist “…fiction becomes a loaded word.”
Painting has always played a major role in human expression, often evolving subject to an intricate interplay of depictive conventions, abstract communications, and historization. In fact, painting itself could be said to be a form of adaptation that captures unique compositional characteristics as it concurrently delves deep into the human condition.
Trace Miller received his BFA from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, and his MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art’s Hoffberger School of Painting in Baltimore. Recently retired, he was formerly a Lecturer and Assistant Chair in the Department of Art + Design, Art History, Art Education at Towson University. His works have been exhibited extensively in the Mid-Atlantic region, New York, and Chicago.
Miller’s work has been featured in publications such as New American Paintings, The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Magazine, and The Baltimore Review. In 2013, 2014, and 2023 Miller was selected as a semifinalist for the Bethesda Painting Awards, and as a finalist in 2023. He has received two Individual Artist Grants from the Mayor’s Committee on Art and Culture in Baltimore, and has appeared as guest speaker and visiting artist at numerous venues such as the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art, Albright College, Shepardstown College, and the Baltimore School for the Arts. Miller’s work is represented in a number private and public collections including the Baltimore Museum of Art.