Plush or firm. Sleek or weathered. Silky or prickly. Certain art media have inherently tactile surface textures. We see them and immediately want to run our fingers over the work to make a physical sensory connection. Other media can be used to create implied surface textures that engage our senses through suggestion, memory or metaphor. The four artists in this exhibition use surfaces and textures that invite us to examine their work closely. They also use layers of surfaces to suggest layers of feeling. We are asked to dig below the surface – the visual surface – to explore depths of meaning and emotion.
In all of my work I have a focus on nature, incorporating the wabi-sabi aesthetic in my compositions. Wabi-sabi is a traditional Japanese aesthetic which signifies acceptance of transience and imperfection. I seek to create awareness, insight, and explore the fragile connections between nature and human society. In these mixed-media paintings, I integrate wabi-sabi to capture the small and simple beauty of nature. I use natural materials found in our forests, quarries and oceans, as well as pigments, pastes and mediums to recreate organic textures on my canvases. A conscious effort to honor the mundane and incidental is part of my artistic philosophy.
In these works, I use materials with direct relationship to the elements in order to address issues of environmental stewardship. I want the viewer to be drawn into the work and contemplate our fragile connection with nature as well as the moral weight of our influence on it.
As I traverse 40 years of painting professionally, I find I’m always drawn to fluid media. Beginning with inks and washes through watercolor, alcohol inks, to fluid acrylic has been a journey back to self in a way. Fluid acrylic has captured my heart, mind and soul!! I don’t want to do anything else right now!
For the last two and a half years I have focused on mastering this complex and unpredictable medium. Its challenges are sometimes frustrating, yet successes are always exciting and encouraging.
For this show, I created several series and sets of paintings by color palette, attempting to show the many layers and depths which can be obtained by pouring and manipulating acrylic paints in a fluid state on canvas using several techniques. A never-ending learning process, this way of painting offers so many inspirations it's hard to choose what I like best and therefore focus on. For now, I’m content to explore the outer limits of what surfaces, designs and textures I can imagine!!!
Denise Oyama Miller
Making things has always been a part of my life. My mother made sure there were tools and raw materials (e.g., paper, paints, beads, yarn, fabric, sea shells, rice, clay) available. She bought me a small sewing machine when I was five. I still like to work in lots of different mediums, but I always return to fabric. I love the tactile nature of fabric and can spend hours getting just the right colors and design for what I am trying to communicate with my art quilts.
Basically, my construction process is quite simple. I have a backing fabric and batting material to soften the touch. But the design is all about the surface. I sometimes plan complex designs that are built-up with layers of fabric, tulle, interfacing, and threads. Other times, I work with less pre-planning and work more abstractly. If I cannot find the right colors or patterns, I sometimes will dye and/or print on my hand-dyed fabrics or include non-traditional materials in my art quilts, like paper and paint. The final quilting holds all the layers together.
My inspirations can come from many different sources. I am always intrigued by what exists in Nature and look for patterns in color, shapes, and textures. I love the nuances in the color of flowers, the texture of rocks and grasses, the soft colors in the background, even the beautiful farmlands. A common theme in my work is landscapes and in particular, trees. To me, trees are the foundation of landscapes and provide a metaphor for stability, peace, and a long life.
Whenever someone asks me to describe my work or asks what medium I work with, I find myself answering with one word: texture. It’s not a medium, but it is my focus. I am driven to work with texture as a way of expressing my physical pain and healing. I am intimately involved in a lifelong love affair with texture. I want to inspire those who see my work to come closer, to feel compelled to investigate further, to wonder about the materials, and to feel intrigued by them. Then I want them to forget about the materials and simply take refuge in the play of textures, both real and implied, across the surface.