It All Starts with a Line

Jordan Miller

October 2 to 27 at Cre8ery

 

One doesn’t often use the word “massive” to describe an independent art show, but Jordan Miller’s exhibition, It All Starts with a Line, feels massive.

It’s not just because of the sheer number of pieces, which seem to creep into every nook and cranny of the gallery, but because of the ambition of the show.

Despite using dozens of individual media across more than 80 pieces, Miller maintains a consistent artistic vision throughout.

One of the unifying themes of that vision is texture, which Miller uses in unexpected ways to raise questions about the artistic media she employs. Her image transfer photography, for example, intentionally uses flaws in the photographic and transfer processes.

With digital photography as ubiquitous as the phones in our pockets, we often consider photos to be flawless historical records, not decaying artifacts.

Miller’s use of photographic decay spills over into photos, such as A City of Graves, which shows the Eiffel Tower looming over ancient Parisian tombs. It’s a playful thematic linking of form and content that makes the viewer conscious of the creation of the artwork, not just the finished product.

That emphasis on process is amplified by Miller’s use of mixed media. Her multilayer monoprint collages, with many layers of texture and colour, make the viewer sense the labour involved to create them.

One painting, Current, uses both acrylic painting and wood engraving. Other paintings contain resin, Plexiglas and sand.

A series within the show, Breaking Barriers, employs virtually every process in the rest of the show. Individual pieces contain the inventive mixture of paint and mixed media along with the photographic transfers.

While these obviously feel like the culmination of all the other work, they never diminish the others. Instead, they make the other pieces feel like essential stepping stones to the Breaking Barriers pieces.

Even Miller’s more conventional works of acrylic on canvas manage to raise these questions about process.

Her paintings are often made up of only two colours and form semi-abstracted hints of landscape or figures, almost as if the removal of part of the colour spectrum has taken an equal part of reality with it.

There’s a sense that we’re only seeing a fraction of what’s really there, that our vision as the viewer is somehow limited and the painting itself expands beyond what we can comprehend.

Other paintings, like Singing in the Rain and Reverb, explore specific motions or sensory experiences through texture. They’re suggestive of synesthesia, the phenomenon by which some individuals’ senses blur together, allowing them to hear colours in music or associate letters and numbers with colours.

That synesthetic overlap only adds to the richness of an already engaging and immersive exhibition. It All Starts with a Line is an impressive and immersive experience crafted by an artist who knows her voice and uses it beautifully.

Published in Volume 70, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 15, 2015)

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