Jacob Miller

Jacob Miller

Jacob Miller

JACOB MILLER, ceramics
2017/18 Artist in Residence

I use art as a form of communication where I am in near absolute control of the structure and content of the dialog. It’s a discussion I’m having with myself and with the culture around me. People can use art to talk in ways that aren’t as tangible as spoken or written language but still carry a huge load of content. Rather than letters, words, sentences, and paragraphs, I use an array symbols in the form of figures, colors, icons, and materiality to form a message.

The human body and the concept of a figure are the most persistent symbols in my work. Sometimes its distortion and perspective in relation to itself and other objects are the only essential elements of my sculptures. I see every figure of mine as a generalized self portrait of our culture. Even pieces that seem specific, are made with more consideration of how they have become iconized, than with its depiction of their actual identity.

When not directly present in my sculptures I use objects to either stand in for or suggest a figure; placing eggs on a couch, or using extinguished cigarettes to imply human interaction. Sometimes the distinction between a figure and an object standing in its place aren’t explicit, my various sculptures of monuments and emojis, are both depictions of figures and replacements of figures.

Falsehood and reality of material are extremely important elements in creating dialog in my sculptures. The fact that I used spray-paint to portray gold, fake grass and real oak, in “The Middle Class Achievement Award” are very important to understanding its content. I often use clay to portray clay by sculpting bricks and throwing ash trays, to make jokes about the expectation people have about artwork.

Humor is a consistent quality of my sculpture, and it’s often used to make serious topics palatable… and also because I enjoy it. If I’m going to represent the middle class as a nearly unobtainable goal for millennials, it might as well make me laugh too. Nonetheless considering art as a legitimate means of communication makes the entire existence of this statement completely redundant.

Jacob Miller is a mixed material sculptor working predominately in figurative ceramics, and is currently a resident artist at the Mendocino Art Center. He was originally drawn to the challenging aspects of the wheel and ceramics during high school, and at Illinois Central College. Although his work was always loosely inspired by the human figure, it wasn’t until his time at Alfred University as a BFA student that he addressed the figure directly.

For two years following graduation Jacob returned home to Central Illinois, got a day job as an apprentice carpenter, and started renting studio space. Although it was far from ideal, this post-graduation period gave him a tangible feeling of working class life in America. It also served to give Jacob a good deal of practical knowledge about carpentry and woodworking, which are increasingly integrated in his practice.