Marlene Miller

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Marlene Miller received her B.F.A. in ceramics and painting from Bradley University in 1976. She was awarded a two-year graduate fellowship in ceramics at Syracuse University, earning her M.F.A. in 1978.

As Professor of Art, Miller taught at Illinois Central College from 1978 to 2000, when she left her position to focus exclusively on her own creative pursuits. She won an Illinois Art Council Individual Artist Fellowship in 2002 for her ceramic sculpture and wall relief.

Miller has exhibited nationally for over 30 years. Group exhibitions include: Red Heat: Contemporary Work in Clay at the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2010, in which she was awarded Best in Show; A Contemporary Look at Abraham Lincoln at The Peoria Art Guild in 2009; Ink and Clay at the California Polytechnic University in Pomona in 2011, 2007, and 2004; The Other at Mary Lou Zeek Gallery in Salem, Oregon in 2006; Smithsonian Craft Show at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. in 2003; National Ceramics Invitational at Texas A&M in Commerce in 2000; Narrative and Poetic Expressions: The Human Form in Clay, which she also curated at Lakeview Museum in Peoria in 1999; Figurative Ceramics at the Works Gallery in Philadelphia in 1997; Ceramics Now at the Downey Museum of Art in Downey, California in 1994, 1990, and 1989; the 29th Ceramics National at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York in 1993; National Council of Education of Ceramic Arts Exhibition, Taft Museum, Cincinnati, OH in 1990; Interior Images at Esther Saks Gallery in Chicago in 1986; The Southwest/Midwest Exchange at the Museum of Fine Arts of New Mexico in Santa Fe, and Lill Street Gallery in Chicago in 1984; Clay from Molds; Multiples, Altered Castings, and Combinations, John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI, 1978.

Exhibiting her work internationally, Miller has participated in the following: 10th International Biennial of Ceramics in Manises, Spain in 2011; IX and VIII Biennial International Ceramics Exhibition in Aveiro, Portugal in 2009 and 2007; SOFA Chicago, International Exposition of Sculpture Objects and Functional Art, in 2007 and 2004; SOFA New York in 2004; The Faenza International in Faenza, Italy, in 1991; Fletcher Challenge Award Exhibition in Auckland, New Zealand in 1995 and 1992; The XIII International Biennial of Ceramic Arts in Vallauris, France in 1992, and the German/American Exchange Exhibit, Museum of Friedrichshafen, Germany, 1985.

Recent solo exhibitions include the following venues: The Contemporary Art Center in Peoria, Illinois in 2010; Art @830 in Key West, Florida in 2009; Venue in Washington, IL in 2009; The Artisan Gallery in Belleville, Wisconsin in 2008; Bradley University in Peoria in 2007; and The Figge Museum in Davenport, Iowa in 2007.

Miller's ceramic sculpture is in private collections throughout the United States and overseas; and in public collections primarily in the Midwest.

Artist Statement

My primary interest is giving expression to interior realms both personal and universal. As an artist, I have always been drawn to, and I continuously draw upon, what is mystifying in life. My work examines the relationship between power and vulnerability, the comic and tragic, wonder and horror, the holy and corrupt. Working in an improvisational mode, I experience the creative process as an intimate conversation with my materials and the figures that emerge.

I love the medium of clay because it is inherently sensual, responsive, and sometimes maddeningly unpredictable. The fluidity of the clay allows me to build and alter forms with great immediacy. With tools and sometimes simply my hands and fingers, I pound, scrape, cut, dig and gouge, searching for something I have never seen before. I build up and tear apart repeatedly, looking to be moved and transfixed. Once found, I stop, leaving intact the evidence of my struggle.

As a child in kindergarten, I recall standing at my easel, painting with abandon, feeling a sense of exhilaration and ownership. In recent years, I have been striving to recapture that same freedom and unselfconsciousness by letting go of self-censorship and feeling the need to prettify. Increasingly, I am aiming for a more instinctual and authentic form of self-expression.

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