Imitating Life: Posing questions to local artist Brianna Miller

Courtesy artist Brianna Miller
Courtesy artist
Brianna Miller

Brianna Miller is among the half-dozen contemporary artists whose work ranges in style from sculpture to paint, and from the surreal and the abstract to the more realist approach, in an exhibit at 4th Street Vine, 2142 E. 4th St. through Friday, Aug. 28. The show, entitled Plagues and Pleasures, is inspired by a quote by poet Rainer Maria Rilke: “Don’t take my devils away, because my angels may flee too.”

According to the show’s curator, Sarah Abramson, both good and evil are necessary for survival, each side of the spectrum being equally vital. Miller’s take on good versus evil seems more personal, and perhaps more esoteric, than literal.

What interests you about the theme of Plagues and Pleasures?

In relation to my work, I feel that the theme of Plagues and Pleasures is reflected through the constant presence of both abject imagery and happy rainbows. This odd fusion of contradictory elements is an aesthetic that I am naturally drawn to, and I find myself instinctually using a hybrid of abstraction and absurdity during my fluid creative thought. I’m not too concerned with finding a balance of “the good” and “the bad” necessarily but rather embracing the strange beauty of surreal thoughts through a visual exploration of the mysterious abyss within my mind.

“Sloopy Should've Been a Cowboy's Cat,
“Sloopy Should’ve Been a Cowboy’s Cat,” marker illustration

How would you describe yourself and what you do as an artist?

My most recent body of work reflects the idea of “becoming” in regard to the morphing visual aesthetic present in my art. Similar to life, my creative work is rarely fixed; instead, I find comfort in exploring various territories both conceptually and perceivably. Though my work may take different forms, constant themes include questioning reality, altering the norm and attempting to understand complicated ideology via kooky, mind-inspired imagery. I create visual systems of thought to convey ideas dependent on the activity of my color-saturated mental landscape. With my three-eyed, open-minded (literally) and curious “human” figures, I aim to look at everyday notions in an unusual way— different to the way we tend to blindly accept our surroundings. I strive to push the limits of what can be easily described and defined. I attempt to suspend all beliefs that we observe on a daily basis in order to achieve maximum interpretation of the corporeal and cognitive realm.

What do you try to achieve with your art?

Heightened consciousness, human connectivity, enlightened awareness and creative illumination.

Does your artistic life ever get lonely? If so, what do you do to counteract it?

I listen to Roy Orbison.

How do you feel when people ask you to explain the meaning of your art?

I am more interested in hearing about different interpretations people have when viewing my artwork. Diversity in meaning is one of my favorite aspects of displaying my pieces; observing how others are affected by my pieces and noticing the differences [or] similarities present in their creative critiques. Instead of telling people a meaning, I enjoy having conversations based on various inspired themes.

“Three Little Potheads,
“Three Little Potheads,” marker illustration

Have you ever been banned or censored to any degree as an artist? If so, how did you react?

In first grade, I was suspended from school for putting a hurtful note in the class mailbox. Included in this note was a drawing of a large man with his pants down, exposing his fuzzy buttocks. This note was meant to be delivered to school bully David. Unfortunately, it never was delivered, and I was caught in the act, having signed it with my full name and class number. My reaction to this situation involved crying and denying— an appropriate response for a 6-year-old who was outed for doodling a disturbingly detailed mooning. This was my earliest experience of being censored as an artist, and, because of this ban, David was never able to see my anger-inspired, butt-centric masterpiece.

If you met a 5-year-old who expressed interest in being an artist, what advice would you give him or her?

Don’t put suggestive letters in the class mailbox and instead, give your drawing of a hairy ass directly to the intended recipient.

To view more of Miller’s work, visit . For more information about the exhibit, call (562) 343-5463 or visit .