Dan Miller’s Energetic and Repetitive Paintings
by Kristin Sancken
November 17, 2014 – Visual artist Dan Miller has emerged as the poster child for artists dealing with adversity. Diagnosed with autism, and lacking traditional communication skills, Miller has developed a complex artistic process that utilizes discursive language as both his subject matter and means of discussion. Best known for his intricate drawings that employ descriptives texts, letters, and numerical sequences that references his day-to-day life, Miller has developed a newfound approach to creative expression that couples intuition with technical skill.
His recent solo exhibition at Ricco Maresca Gallery (October 30- December 6) presents a selection of new large-format works by Miller that are evocative of his signature abstract drawings yet show improvements, both methodically and conceptually, in his development as a mature artist. Tom Di Maria, Director of the Creative Growth Art Center, stated, “Some say artists with disabilities don’t evolve like academically trained artists. Dan put this argument to rest and certainly grabbed the bull by the horns. As his career continues to evolve, his work gets more interesting all the time. The early drawings were thin line drawings of words. They new ones are becoming increasingly more complex, abstract and painterly.”
The instinctive nature of Miller’s work is prevalent and the energetic undertones of his repetitive nature are almost inescapable to the viewer. Similar to some mainstream artists like Kara Walker and Robert Ryman, Miller appreciates the surface of his work, always leaving some of the white space open to help confide the essence of the drawing. Concentration often seems to go hand-in-hand with certain forms of autism, and Miller distinctly focuses on building oneiric forms in a dynamic and hybridized manner.
Miller has been attending the Creative Growth Art Center, a California non-profit that serves adult artists with developmental, mental, and physical disabilities, providing a professional studio environment for artistic development, for over 30 years. His personal achievements and commercial success serve as an inspiration to all of his contemporaries. As Di Maria put it, “Dan is an artist, and like it or not, we use commercial success as a barometer of approval, so that’s great for him. He’s the first artist with his disability to have his work acquired by the permanent collection of MoMA. This is extraordinary for any artist, let alone for someone who was dismissed by society as being unable to succeed.”
Dan Miller’s work was shown in “Glossolalia: Languages of Drawing” (March 26-July 7, 2008) at the Museum of Modern Art. His work is also in the permanent collection at MOMA and many important private collections. This is his second solo exhibition in New York City.