Brittany Miller’s paintings show scenes of vulnerable figures, crouched and curled up in vague domestic spaces with expressions of listlessness and trepidation. Spinning cyclones and windswept landscapes press up against the windows, threatening the interiors. The bodies at rest fill the space--daydreaming and waiting for a storm that may or may not arrive.
Brittany Miller lives and works in the Bronx, NY. She received a BFA and MS from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Her work is included in numerous public and private collections.
1: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in the arts. I live in the Bronx, by way of a cult city in Upstate New York. I went to a small art school in Utica, New York (Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute), then moved to New York to go to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. I’ve also taken a few classes at the New York Studio School. Though— the vast majority of the work I’ve done has happened outside of a program. 2: What kind of work are you currently making? Right now many of my paintings are people--at rest and waiting, pressed tightly inside their spaces. There are windblown trees or cyclones approaching the figures, (either in windows or in paintings that hang in the background). Lined patterns on the sheets and pillows blend into the lines of the storms and bent branches, and what awaits outside bleeds into the interior. I’ve been working on storm paintings for about a year, after a recurring dream of a tornado approaching a little house while I watched from inside. The dreams felt Biblical, and the imagery feels imprinted on my brain, so I’m still drawing and painting them. The connections we have to ideas about home, time spent inside our own minds, and dangerous forces in the external world are making this imagery feel even more relevant and universal. I’m interested in stitching cardboard or drawings on paper onto the paintings (either at the beginning as a way to construct the imagery, or afterward as an editing process). I am continuing to figure out new ways of making sculptural paintings and painted sculptures, because I like to move around somewhere in this intersection. More recently I’m thinking about theater set design. I’m interested in separating out the elements in my paintings—turning them into separate sculptural paintings that sit together to read as one image (a painting of a tableaux vivant, sitting in front of a large-scale painting serving as a backdrop, with smaller paintings on standing wood in the foreground). 3: What is a day like in the studio for you? I drink cinnamon tea all day long. While I’m working I either listen to bad television or documentaries in the background, depending on my mood. Recently I listened to Lauren Gunderson’s new play The Catastrophist, the Heaven’s Gate docuseries Cult of Cults, and Bachelor in Paradise. I often make a painting in one sitting, though occasionally I let them sit overnight so that I can approach them with fresh eyes in the morning. I keep a pile of about two dozen cheap brushes next to my palette, and I cut them with scissors. I like scrubbing the bristles against the canvas, so they are quickly worn down to nothing. I keep interesting pieces of cardboard and paper around (along with my beloved Kaweco Sketch Up pencil), and take breaks to make drawings every few minutes. I have a (bad) habit of throwing everything on the floor. 4: What are you looking at right now and/or reading? In person I was able to see shows by Angela Dufresne at Yossi Milo, Deborah Brown at Anna Zorina, and Reggie Burrows Hodges at Karma. I also saw the group show Paradise Island at Steven Harvey’s. I’ve been looking at Clintel Steed’s show Behind the Hood at Mark Borghi and Xiao Wang (who I showed with at Deanna Evans Projects’ inaugural show in February) at The Java Project virtually, as well as The Lonely Ones, an online show curated by Katelyn Eichwald for Fortnight Institute. I’ve been watching every artist talk by Angela Dufresne that I could find—they are rich, brilliant, and entertaining (sometimes she sings). In thinking about Dufresne’s work and tableaus, I’m reading Tintoretto’s Difference: Deleuze, Diagrammatics, and Art History by Kamini Vellodi. I just finished Stranger Faces by Namwali Serpell—about the mythology of the face and the mutability of faces. It’s particularly interesting to me as I’m fairly face-blind (though, not as face-blind as Oliver Sacks or Chuck Close). I’m also rereading Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata, because I love convenience stores (almost as much as The Convenience Store Woman loves convenience stores). 5: Where can we find more of your work? I have current work on my website (www.bjmiller.nyc) and on my instagram @brittanyjmiller3. I also put small paintings up on artinres.com if I’m not using them for a show (For those who don’t know, Art in Res is a platform where collectors can buy work in increments, making collecting more accessible). I’m fleshing out a new body of work right now, so we’ll see where it ends up.