Greg Miller: Making Waves
Objects, the way we use them, and their design and efficiency are always evolving in a constant series of refinement and improvement. The surfboard is no exception. Rooted in ancient origins, they were invented in ancient Hawaii by Polynesians. Known as papa he'e nalu, they were typically constructed of wood from local trees, often over 15 feet in length, and extremely heavy. Over time, advancements such as the addition of fins on the bottom rear of the board improved directional stability, and increased options in materials lent to countless variations of shape and construction.
Detail of fins, Greg Miller, Luck
That initial culture of the ancient Polynesians directly influenced modern surfing of the early 20th century, reaching extreme and peak popularity in Hawaii, Australia, and California during the 1950s and 1960s. It has since affected music, fashion, literature, film, art, and vernacular (gnarly, anyone?).
Greg Miller’s work offers a unique exploration of medium in works that combine elements of painting, collage, and pop culture.
“I’m a contemporary cave painter, an archaeologist of sorts. Imagery comes from old art books, garbage cans, book stores (if any are left), junk piles, walls…” Miller explains. “I draw from the diverse cultural and geographic makeup of my California roots. I keep exploring my relationship with the space that I inhabit to communicate a particular experience. I continue to appropriate, work with paint, collage, deconstruct exploring the contradiction, ambiguity, and truth between urban streetscape and history.”
Greg Miller, L: Freedom Riders, C: Luck, R: Red Pony
Miller’s new works include a series of refurbished surfboards. Life-sized and exploring the cultural implications of surf culture in art, media, and fashion, the surfboards employ his signature style of combining printed ephemera, original paintings, and resin. Using the surfboards as if they were canvas, Miller utilizes every inch of his composition to further his storytelling, with text and imagery wrapping around the sides and extending to the back of the boards.
Through nuanced juxtapositions of image and text, the artist derives to the roots, and shades of meaning, found within classic imagery associated with the America of the 50s and 60s, aligning perfectly with the era of surfing’s pinnacle. Miller’s work has traversed the boundary between sculpture, collage, and painting, always keeping a strong narrative focus.
In Miller’s, “Freedom Riders,” he hand paints the Marvel comic book hero, The Silver Surfer underneath text reiterating the title. Known for reaching high speeds on his cosmic surfboard, The Silver Surfer emphasizes the strong connection between surf culture and pop culture. Referencing both the sport and its associated lifestyle, the title, Freedom Riders, echoes the effortlessly cool and rebellious attitude of surfing.
Transitioning from a basic means of transportation to today’s highly stylized symbols of art and culture, the surfboard represents the advancements, improvements, and societal acceptance that can occur when people band together around a common interest.
Greg Miller, Now on View at JoAnne Artman Gallery
511A West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011| 326 N Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, CA 92651