Artist spotlight: Danielle Rae Miller
One of POLYCHROME’s longest standing artists, Danielle Miller, lives and works in Albuquerque, NM. She is known for her beautiful and intricate nature-inspired pieces. Danielle sat down with us to tell us about her artwork, inspirations, and upcoming exhibit.
Take a look through some of gorgeous exclusive prints Danielle has in our collection from left to right :
Thea: How early on in your childhood did you decide to become an artist?
Danielle: Really early! I mean, I don't know that it was a decision... It seems like something that's sort of always been. Some of my earliest memories involve artsy things. There was an easel in a garden in summer, where I used finger paints, and a dance class where the teacher told us to pretend to walk through peanut butter...
Danielle's piece below "Hungering" in ceramic
Thea: What school did you attend, or where did you first start to train for your art career? Tell us a bit about your experience - what was your area of study?
Danielle: I started in high school. I had two amazing art teachers at Loveland High School (Colorado), who taught me so much, and who helped me build a portfolio to apply to art schools. I have only ever pulled one all-nighter, and that was in high school when I was working on my portfolio. That portfolio got me to RISD, where I met you, dear Thea. You and I were both sophomores in the Apparel program, but that summer, I realized I wasn't interested in the fashion industry, so I transferred to Printmaking, and finished my degree there. A couple years after RISD, I went to grad school at the University of New Mexico, and got my MFA in Printmaking.
Thea: What is a typical day of work for you?
Danielle: I get up early, sometimes before dawn. I make myself a cup of strong black tea with milk, feed my menagerie of pets, and go out to the studio. On a good day, and if I don't have to go teach, or drive my almost-teenager somewhere, I'll work into the early afternoon, and then take my dogs for a walk in the Bosque (a wooded area around the Rio Grande river) near my house.
Danielle working on a new piece for her upcoming exhibit:
Thea: What is inspiring to you? What do you do when you feel "blocked" creatively - how do you get unstuck?
Danielle: I'm inspired by so many things. Patterns in nature - leaves and plants and rocks on the forest floor; tree branches, and the negative spaces of blue sky between them. Yesterday, on a walk, I found an abandoned wild honeycomb at the base of an old cottonwood tree. I also love botanical illustrations, and wallpaper patterns. Cabinets of curiosity (I loved the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab at RISD). While I have experienced many creative "blocks", I don't tend to think of it as blockage anymore...I think of it as a sort of break, a resting period, between bodies of work. So I use the time to play. I try to pay attention to what feels good, what I feel drawn to, and I just keep moving toward the things that make me curious. In the last one I had, I was obsessed with blue color fields, and was making ceramic bowls. I started decorating the bowls with blue patterns, sort of like Delftware, but all my own doodling. Then started doing the line-work--doodling--on paper. And that eventually led me to the body of work I'm making now.
Thea: I know you teach at Central New Mexico Community College and the Institute of American Indian Arts. How does being a teacher of other creatives fuel your own work ?
Danielle: I feel so grateful to teach at the college level! It's pretty amazing that I get to spend my work days in conversations about something I love (art), with people who are interested in learning about it! (at least they mostly pretend to be -- Ha!). While there isn't always a direct correlation between what I teach and what I make, it's such an immersive experience. Sometimes it feels like I live my life in an art bubble.