ABOUT ALYSON MILLER
Through her art, Alyson Miller offers a fresh take on the natural world that engages the imagination. Inspired by the color, texture, light, and motion of organic form and landscape, she creates striking mixed media bas-reliefs using unexpected materials.
Her abstract work speaks to the inner spirit while her landscapes create an evocative sense of place—all through her use of fiber clay, pigments, beads, yarn, and copper wire. “Creating art is a meditation for me. My process—the experience I have in making each piece—is as important to me as the final outcome,” she says. “I want you to see my hand at work in each piece, even if you wonder how I went about making it.”
Miller’s eclectic contemporary style is unique and appealing. She arrived at it circuitously, from an extensive Fine Art education and an original intent to be an artist, through years of design work in the high-tech industry while raising a family in the San Francisco Bay area and Portland, OR, then back to creating her own art with renewed sense of purpose.
Now living with her husband in Carefree Arizona, a small arts-centric community north of Scottsdale, Miller has returned to her roots as an artist—fulfilling the promise she made to herself of one day finding her way back to her dream of making art. Sometimes playful, sometimes serene, Miller's one-of-a-kind handmade pieces are intricate, tactile, and engaging.
Process and Materials
"As I travel through the American Southwest desert or up and down the Pacific coast and inland, I see around me the beauty of the natural world—its rich colors and textures, the play of light and flow of water, the shapes and patterns of organic form—and I’m inspired to capture my sense of it all through mixed-media art," Miller explains.
Sometimes she's taken by shapes, colors, and patterns and will sketch an idea for an abstract piece. Other times, an entire scene grabs her and she’ll snap a photo to use as the basis for a landscape. "Back in my studio,"she says, "I look through my source materials and decide what I feel like working on. Often, I’ll create a series of abstracts to work through iterations on a motif or theme; or I’ll do a set of related landscapes."
Each piece starts with an earth-based, fiber-infused clay that she sculpts into a bas-relief “canvas.” She air-dries the clay in the Arizona sun, seals it against moisture, and paints it with layers of pigment suspended in translucent acrylic glazes that reveal the underlying textures.
"Years ago, I fell in love with glass and semi-precious stone beads, natural yarn, and wire while making beaded knit baskets and I’ve been using those materials in my wall art ever since," Miller says. Her organic abstracts feature a
central section of beaded crochet or knitting that lets background color show through, along with additional beads and wire to catch the light. Her landscapes are stylized to evoke the feeling of the place and incorporate pattern and sections of wired-in beads. "I know a piece is done when I feel a sense of harmony and balance in its colors and form," she explains. "All of my work explores color, pattern, texture, and motion in three dimensions, through intricate detail and unexpected materials that draw you in to investigate." Through form and materials, Miller's pieces invite you to participate.
"I hope my work makes you smile or wonder and that it sparks your visual imagination. If it awakens your own connection with the natural world, I’m happy."
Having recently moved with her husband to Carefree, AZ, today Miller is a member of the Sonoran Arts League, with work showing regularly at The Gallery at El Pedrigal in North Scottsdale, AZ. Her work has been juried into the well-established Art & Wine Festivals mounted by Thunderbird Artists and Vermillion Promotions in the Carefree/Cave Creek, AZ area and she was invited to participate in a Scottsdale fiber arts show next January. She organizes and participates in the annual Village at Carefree Art Show. She is delighted to have found her way back to original calling as an artist.
Art Background and Education
“I always loved to draw and paint,” Miller recalls. Born and raised in New York City, she grew up in an arts-friendly family. Her father was a radio announcer on New York's main classical radio station and her uncle was a talented watercolorist and commercial artist. "As a child." she says, "I was frequently given presents of colored pencils, pastels, paints, and origami paper." During high school, the life drawing classes she took at the Art Student's League in Manhattan, along with time spent exploring New York City's many art museums and galleries, cemented her desire to pursue art as a career.
Miller completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Queens College of the City University of New York and graduate work in Fine Art at the University of California at San Diego, on full scholarship. Life interrupted Miller's plans to be a full-time working artist, but she kept her creative energy alive during this hiatus by pursuing a career as a visual designer and writer of user manuals, software user interfaces, newsletters, and web sites in the high tech industry, first in the San Francisco Bay area and then in Portland, Oregon, where she raised her family. She made jewelry and worked with yarn. She also enjoyed planning and planting lush Pacific Northwest gardens around her home and doing various home renovation and interior decorating projects.