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then & now






table of contents p 5-7...introduction & foreword p 8-50...then p 51-79...now


introduction My work involves experimenting with combinations of discarded materials and fabricated form. Materials that I find on the street and natural, strange found objects particularly

interest me. In my practice I often experiment with combinations of discarded materials and fabricated form. By using color and surface treatment on these collected forms, I create compositions focused on memory, nostalgia, and childhood.

I work across several mediums such as painting, drawing, printmaking, and photography. The marks and colors applied to forms and canvas are both considered and intuitive. This approach accommodates my curiosity through mark making and results in

unexpected moments that further inspire the work. These unexpected moments allow different mediums to interact, overlap, and blend.

This discovery of surprising juxtapositions led to my most recent small-scale work, which involves the idea of collection. While researching childhood memorabilia, I came upon photo documentation of objects found in preschoolers’ pockets. I was struck by how

typical silly objects could be arranged in such a sweet, subtle and highly elevated way,

that made me really look at a piece of string or sticker. From that new direction, I started examining the preciousness of ordinary, irrelevant, and mundane objects. I find that by

taking these diverse forms away from their points of origin and putting them into a new

context allows me to explore unexpected moments of synchronicity inside small worlds. 5

foreword Being an artist means adapting to change. Our lives have changed immensely due to COVID-19.

The world has changed and it will be very different moving forward. On March 15th, I went to my studio and had to make a quick decision of what materials, projects, and objects were important enough to be taken home to continue working with in these new circumstances. All alone, I grabbed what I could hold on to. I looked around my beloved studio and took my paints,

pastels, graphite, oil sticks, sketchbooks, brushes and any canvas I had lying around. I took the one wooden shelf I was able to build in the wood-shop along with small debris/ collected

forms in a bucket. I said goodbye to my large seesaw I had been so proud to have made , as

well as my large paintings on wood. Mostly everything in my studio was large in scale. I left my foam objects, a wooden ladder/jungle gym structure I had built, and so many other things. I took the necessities. Had I known that was the last time I would spend in my studio, I would

have looked around longer. I would have taken in the four years in that building and said “thank you” to the space.

Those days are long gone now. The routine is over and we have been shifted to a virtual

platform, with everyone all alone in their bubble of a world. We are alone together. Separated but trying to stay together, we all sit with the uncertainty of the future. As I write this looking

out of the window and at other lit-up windows of other apartments, I know the world is different now. I have been listening to “All Things Must Pass” by George Harrison. I play this song on repeat and wake up everyday along with everyone else, wondering: when will this all pass?


foreword My art has not changed drastically, nor am I trying to shift what I make to be about these

circumstances. Rather, I see creating as a form of record keeping. Art is marking time and being fully present within this demarcation. We have been forced to slow down. We are alone with our thoughts, our speed, and the now. As I create work in my kitchen and

bedroom, life seems to be blending more and more with my art. I am okay with that.

Although it feels strange, it feels natural. I think of Joseph Cornell working on his shadow

boxes in his home in Queens. I think of Giorgio Morandi painting his beautifully sad objects at home in Bologna, Italy I think of Frida Kahlo painting in her bed. Art adapts. Artists react and reflect.

Why is this book separated between then and now? Well, because we have all been

separated. Separated from one another and from the normal life we once had and took for

granted. This book has become my way of reflecting and physically organizing the artwork I have made before the “new normal” of life now. The work created in my kitchen nook is

ever changing, with days that are sad, hopeful, happy, and messy. My painting has simply reacted to given circumstances. I have shifted scale, making smaller objects that are

manageable in a small apartment. I am zooming in and taking the time to notice things. I am slowing down and appreciating what we have now. As at any moment, we could lose it all. Nothing is permanent, nothing is finished, and I am adapting. 7

then →


down to basics , foam,paint, 2017 9

block , wood, chalk, paint, 2017 10



make & remake 2019, plaster, canvas, mixed media, 4 parts


detail 13

1 2 3 G0! was created in 2019, where I took forms collected and experimented in my studio on a large scale, ultimately constructing a staged arrangement of a playful

space. Through intuitively constructed formations of foam, sand, and wood, I became the child playing through the acts of making and installing. Through stacking,

hanging, or wedging objects into crevices, I embraced the material potential of space. These forms were arranged in whimsical configurations, painted in primary colors

reminiscent of Crayola crayons, and yet this installation - so suggestive of “play” - was not meant for interaction. The notion that a playful space might not be meant for play

seemed both odd and exciting to me. What is play without bodily experience, when it is limited to viewership?


1 2 3 G0! mixed media installation 2019


1 2 3 G0! mixed media installation 16


Shelf life is a series of collected objects. I have always thought about mundane objects we see day to day and find a kind of strange beauty in the way things are arranged both accidentally, and purposefully. Like the way a stick on the sidewalk naturally leans on a half eaten lollipop covered by a receipt . Yes, this is garbage, but if we slow down, and pay attention to these small moments, we can find the mark of a human and there is beauty. I also have been thinking about the preciousness of objects, even when these objects are by no means

precious. Is it possible to create arrangements of unwanted material into something more

relevant, more precious and even interesting? Children often find things on the street and put these small objects into their pockets- holding on to them like they are gems. As adults, we collect objects with meaning or memory; like a dried flower from a wedding, a pin, or a photograph.

What happens when we elevate objects that hold no meaning? To me, shelf life is a

sketchbook. Each shelf could one day be a large scale installation, or it could get thrown back into the bucket of other discarded objects I find. Nothing is permanent. There are endless possibilities within the objects I have accumulated. The objects come from the street, my

pockets, my bags, objects that easily could be garbage, the floor of my studio, or objects given to me over time. To me, these strange, unwanted materials that become forms have a life and hold visual interest when put together in a slow, careful, and meditative way.


shelf life I. found materials wood 2020




shelf life II. found materials wood 2020








notes on painting

Painting and creating journal pages have always been a part of my practice. Painting is an act that calms my anxieties, quiets my thoughts and allows me to think in the now, or what I like to call

"thinking in time.� The marks and colors I lay down are thoughtful yet come from an intuitive place

within me. I feel a sense of freedom and joy when I paint- I am curious about what marks and tools can result in interesting moments. I allow for a mess and I allow for questions. I ďŹ nd inspiration

from the Abstract Expressionist artists such as Helen Frankenthaler, Cy Twombly, Joan Mitchell

and Robert Raushenberg. My paintings come from a personal space of anxiety and worries about my own life and world worries. Mark making is an act or moment in time. To me, being an artist is reporting time, showing up for yourself and being completely vulnerable. Painting allows me to

create marks and lay down colors that feel trapped within me from the day or feelings I have been

holding inside. Some paintings speciďŹ cally draw from urban environments, while others come from dreams or imagery I end up abstracting, and some have song lyrics and writings or sayings. My paintings are a record of both inner and outer worlds.


then →


what's left behind • 6’ x 6’• acrylic, oil stick, graphite and pastel on canvas• 30

back of the brain • 5' x 6' • acrylic, oil stick, graphite and pastel on canvas 31

hazy • 2' x 1 ½' • acrylic, oil stick, graphite and pastel on canvas 32

zigzaggin • 3'x 5'' • acrylic, oil stick, graphite and pastel on canvas•


not for nothin' • 5 'x 5' • acrylic, oil stick, graphite and pastel on canvas 34

avenue • 6' x 6' • acrylic, oil stick, graphite and pastel on canvas

















now →



Currently, my work has adapted and changed in scale. Having limited space, I have treated my practice as a

means of escaping, putting my feelings towards tactile material and dealing with available resources. Each day, I have been layering paint on to two different canvases that hang adjacent to one another. I create small journal pages with a variety of mediums such as paint, charcoal, pastel, oil sticks and graphite. Within these 2D works, I incorporate any writings that come to mind and translate them to physical pages to become tangible and

permanent. These words come from background noise, from the tv, songs, or random sayings. I do not strive for these words to be read clearly, rather they are embedded language and material deep within these surfaces.

I am drawn to the materiality of clay. Something about the material feels simple, strong and safe which is

comforting right now. Clay and the act of baking/cooking draws connections with the tactile decisions between my brain, hand and material relationships. When I am using my hands, I am not making decisions- rather my brain and hand form a secret language. Using clay, I am drawn to creating figures; something I have not

experimented with in many years. These clay figures are sad and collapsed with a strong sense of defeat. Many of these figures are sad, but within this collection I have made two sets of figures embracing, and the other

holding one another up. These works are a result of longing for human connection. I miss witnessing everyday subtle beautiful interactions of life on the streets, subways, restaurants, etc. I miss being a participant and

observer of the collective human experience and condition. Through art making, I am searching for ways to fill these missing feelings.

Through these experiments, I am allowing myself to be open to possibilities. I am letting myself feel, create and




together II. 2020, clay,paint, 2 ½ ” x 1 ½ ”


a lone gray 2020, clay, paint, 1 ”x 1 ½ ”


a lone purple, 2020, clay, paint, 1 ¾ ”x 1 ½ ”


together I. 2020, clay, paint, 3" x 2",


waiting, 2020, clay, paint, 2 ½”x 1 ½ ”


a lone magenta 2020, clay, paint, 1 ½ ”x 1 ½ ”


a lone green 2020, clay, paint, 1 ½ ”x 1 ½ ”


shifting scale- model for public art work


shifting scale- model for public art work


shifting scale- model for public art work 63

shifting scale- model for public art work 64

shifting scale- model for public art work 65

shifting scale- model for public art work 66














& the now continues


Profile for ninamiller208

"then & now" BFA Thesis 2020 By: Nina Miller  

"then & now" is a visual documentation book by multimedia artist, Nina Miller. This book is a collection of past sculptures, paintings and d...

"then & now" BFA Thesis 2020 By: Nina Miller  

"then & now" is a visual documentation book by multimedia artist, Nina Miller. This book is a collection of past sculptures, paintings and d...


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