Nance Miller (born 1962, San Francisco, CA, United States)
After spending three decades working with children as an elementary school teacher, ten years running an international non-profit that does art exchanges with children around the world, and several summers at a monastery, Miller began her own art career. She attended art school in France and has returned to the states ready to infuse the beauty of a child’s eye and perspective, with a trained hand to express her deeply felt love and compassion for the world, and the environment around us.
She has several advanced degrees in education, and is credentialed in Special Education, General Education, and Art. Still working in the public school system, she teaches by day, and paints at night. By doing both oil painting and altered book work, she can freely express her deep love for people, story, and the planet.
Miller creates paintings and mixed media artworks. By applying abstraction, Miller investigates the dynamics of landscape, including the manipulation of its effects on the viewer, the dissolving of space between inside and outside, and the limits of what we see based on our beliefs of what landscape means to us. Rather than presenting a factual reality, an illusion is fabricated to conjure the realms of our imagination.
Her paintings establish a link between the landscape’s reality and that imagined by its conceiver. These works focus on concrete questions that determine our existence and our relationship with the environment around us. By exploring the concept of landscape in a nostalgic way, she creates intense personal moments by use of addition and subtraction, inclusion and exclusion, and acceptance and refusal, thusly luring the viewer round and round, deeper and deeper into the beauty of the world around us.
Her altered book work utilizes discarded books and re-imagines the stories held on the pages into a new life form. Books represent a time of stillness, almost an other-worldly experience as one falls in. They hold memories for us. They are a physical manifestation of both another place, and of a time that is quickly passing us by as we get consumed by digital media. In these works she is working both with that element of story, the beauty of paper, the tugging of our deep attachment to text, and the positive and negative space when text is on paper. When she adds color, the paper is imbued with eco-dyes from local plants, in keeping with the paper’s own origins as plant-life.
Her works do not often use recognizable form. The results are deconstructed to the extent that meaning is shifted and possible interpretation becomes multifaceted. We live in a time when the environment is at risk. Miller hopes to foster a relationship between the viewer and landscape, inside and outside, self and other.
Photo by Dana Spaeth Photography
Being both inspired by the beauty in the world around me and also deeply concerned for its future, my work explores the relationship between the viewer and the viewed, the phenomenon of what is actually there, and the emotional experience of what we perceive. And, the role of light within all of this. I am fascinated with the smallest of details and the largest states of grandeur – parts and pieces, and their relationship to the whole.
In my landscape work, I am moving past the physical response to what is seen, exploring the emotional response that is felt. By using color, texture, and form, a work is created that can stimulate the viewer into having their own personal relationship with what they see. The more we see, the more we care; the more we care, the more we take care.
I find myself influenced by the diverse company of Georgia O’Keefe for her unique expression of seeing, Anselm Kiefer for his unbounded expression of emotion in what he sees, Monet for his exploration of light and its refractions, and Gerhardt Richter for his strident use of materials and exemplary skills.
“Painting seems like some kind of peculiar miracle that I need to have again and again.” ~Phillip Guston
Education and Credentials
Bachelor of Arts, Diversified Liberal Studies - California State University
Master of Arts, Special Education - St. Mary's College
CA Single Subject Credential - Fine Arts
IAU, Marchutz School, Aix en Provence, France - Advanced Studies in Fine Arts
Atelier des Arts, Aix en Provence, France - Drawing and Painting
Studio Escalier, Paris, France - Advanced Drawing