We are proud to present ‘In Our Nature’ – Rachel J Miller´s first solo show at Galleri Majkens, which opens our second exhibition season with bright colors and exuberant energy!
In a wild celebration of color and shape, Miller has created a series of large portraits – acrylics on canvas – depicting not only humans but animals alike. Touching on this duality, her show wishes to highlight the complexity of our relationships to ourselves, and our will to co-exist with animal-life.
In her paintings Rachel J Miller portrays a diverse group of animals, rather focusing on animals of prey than on pets. She uses an intriguingly messy style of painted realism, to tell a wordless story challenging the audience to find the plot. Is it the sly fox wading through a nearly garishly bright pattern, or is it the decisive wolves that seem to be running towards you, that are the protagonists of this show?
Miller’s subject matter is inspired from working with Native American Animal Medicine, where each animal represents a particular aspect of our humanity, as well as, an intrinsic part of nature. The fox for example, represents the use of camouflage in order to - unnoticed by others - observe a situation in life before deciding how to deal with the challenge. This analogy can provide emotional and theoretical support by simply looking at the behavior and talents of the fox representing the natural in an urbanized world. By reputation we know the fox as cunning and sly, qualities that enable it to hide equally well among graffiti-painted fences as well as under the foliage of a forest. This is a subversive quality that can come in handy in a world that nowadays maybe more than ever appears to socially, ecologically and politically spiral out of control.
Rachel J Miller muses that the animal´s traits show us how we can be. When are we sly as a fox, or proud as a skunk (or when have we met another skunk and loved the smell)? Or, imagine, in moments of confusion or fear, flying high as an eagle gaining perspective. This type of introspection is found throughout all of Miller´s work, but especially in the triptych piece ‘Universal Self’, featuring the only two humans appearing in this show – both portrayed in a seated meditation pose.
Miller uses bright and bold colors, both in her figures and their surroundings, along with stripes and seed patterns. Among these patterns, the ‘Flower of Life’ can be spotted as a reoccurring theme. This specific pattern is based on figure-forming circles within the symmetrical structure of a hexagon. The assumed harmony of its proportions has rendered the ‘Flower of Life’ a favorite among philosophers, architects and artists worldwide, dating back to pagan times.
In Rachel J Miller´s imagery, this pattern can be seen as a web, delicately connecting things together. It brings to mind Alexander von Humboldt´s description of nature´s vulnerability: “If one thread is pulled, the whole tapestry may unravel.” (Wulf, Andrea, The Invention of Nature, New York: Vintage Books, 2015
This reminds us of our interconnection with animals, nature and ourselves – pointing out all our vulnerabilities.
As a feminist art gallery, Galleri Majkens is intrigued by the possibility to comment on damaging norms, power structures and the anthropocentric view of the world. We believe that as a part of the feministic fight we need to act in ways that honor all living beings, including the earth. We wish to be critically aware of the biased views embedded in common social structures that often lead to intense exploitation of humans, animals and nature. Improving the quality of life for humans should go hand in hand with improving the life of animals. With these ideas in mind, we open this gallery season with ‘In Our Nature’ as the first of many exciting, stimulating and thought provoking shows at Galleri Majkens.
Rachel J Miller (1974) was born in Scotland and brought up in Europe and USA. Since 2013 she lives and works in Ytterjärna, outside of Stockholm.
Miller started her career as an artist in Sacramento, California and has early on been devoted to exploring archetypes in her many series of portraits and self-portraits. Over the last 20 years, her work has predominantly been shown in the state of California, for example at solo shows at Tower Gallery and Deep and Beatnik Studios. Miller also teaches painting with focus on portrait to both professionals and amateurs around the world, sharing with them her experimental style of layering with paint as well as her passion and love for the natural and spiritual.
Magdalena Blom, gallery director and curator
Rachel J Miller, artist