To the informed
eye, it is obvious that Dadaist collage and the Bauhaus tradition of experimentation
(specifically that of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy) have been major influences in
the work of Lynette Miller. And it is obvious that many of her images
are gleaned from the vast resources of the Internet. But the pleasure
to be derived from her artful juxtaposition of images and the light and
transparency of her chosen medium require no expertiseonly an open
by arlene winkler
piece is built of two sheets of Plexiglas plus a Foamcore backing, set
approximately a quarter-inch apart, with the images digitally printed
on Lazertran, which is a waterslide decal process. The result is two
layers of transparent imagery that appear to float over the opaque images
on the backing. In this way, just as our systems of knowledge build
upon what has come before, her images build upon each otherwhile
individually, they may have little or no meaning. "In other words,
there is more to truth and reality than what can be detected through
do we know what we know? she challenges the viewer. How
do we determine what is real? To find the answers, she draws on
images created over the centuries, by the scientists, philosophers and
artists who preceded her. By combining natural flora and fauna, medical
illustration, scientific schematica, geometrical construction and mathematical
diagrams, she points out the relationships between disparate images.
It is an exploration of knowledge systems, suggesting that we are more
than the sum of our biological parts.
had my work rejected because of nudity and religious symbolism,
she tells me, half mystified, half resigned. But my work is not
about sexuality, its about recycling ideas to expand their meanings.
I do it by recycling whats around me, found images, found materialsafter
my breast cancer surgery, I saved one of the catheters to put into a
assemblage. I used what was going on in my life at that time.
artist as survivor
In early January 2002, Lyn felt a small lump in her breast. But since
she came from a family with no history of breast cancer, and she didnt
smoke, ate the right foods and exercised, she wasnt unduly concerned.
As she saw it, she had no risk factors. But at the urging of a friend
she saw a doctor who sent her for a biopsy and within weeks she had
undergone a lumpectomy. According to the results, they got it all
for a trace in her lymph nodes.
have a sense of urgency now, she says candidly. Cancer makes
you confront your mortality. I dont actively worry about it, but
I know it could come back. As a result, I take the gift of time very
Lynette Miller sitting across from me now is a study in contradictions.
Her joyous sense of humor and ready laugh are in sharp contrast with
a clear unwillingness to put up with, which until I met
her, seemed to be an unspoken requirement for being an artist in Asheville.
native of Buffalo, New York, with its heavy snows and bitterly cold
winters, Lyns first experience with Asheville is a familiar story:
I fell in love with the area when a friend invited me to visit.
Entranced by the serene beauty of the mountains and the lifestyle of
the artists she met, she realized she wanted to spend her life here.
Her first act, on returning to Buffalo, was to resign her position at
Niagara University where she taught undergraduate photography. That
was in 1999 and she has never regretted her decision, even when faced
with the realities of well-water, power outages and small town livingbut
she has lost her illusions about the much-vaunted Asheville art scene.
is a great place for artists to live, she points out pragmatically.
And a terrible place for artists to make a living. Although the
artists here are very supportive of each other, I dont see anyone
else really promoting the arts in Asheville with the exception of a
few institutions, like the North Carolina Arboretum and the Asheville
Art Museum. And by that, I mean the fine arts. There is no question,
this is a fabulous city for crafters.
think about it. Every home that Ive visited has some handmade
pottery or a woven wall hanging, but how many people have I met here
who buy sculpture or paintings? And how does the community take advantage
of the very good, very interesting artists who live and work hereexcept
to ask them to donate their work to charitable auctions? I wonder what
are we missing out on, in terms of stimulating discussions, ideas and
knowledge? And why are we content to have it this way?
a school of thought that says that artists are lazy and dont want
to make a living, that they have no values. When I lived in Boston,
a professor at MIT explained to me that artist is the name
people give themselves when they lack the discipline to make it in science.
If there is a kernel of truth in either theory, I have never found it.
The artists Ive known over the years are driven, disciplined people;
they work hard at their artwork, they work hard to take care of their
families and afford their materials, and they work hard to educate themselves.
Lyn Miller laughs when I mention her MFA from SUNY Buffalo, saying,
An MFA qualified me to teach what I know, to people who arent
going to make any money doing it.
her words ringing in my ears, I attend an opening that evening, a group
show in an Asheville art gallery. Like all openings, its heavily
attended by the artist friends of the artists. My unscientific survey
of the guests reveals a lot of accomplished people. Many of them own
their homes, every one of them has gone to college, a surprising number
have advanced degrees in everything from mathematics to philosophy.
At the same time, I discover that more than half of them have no health
insurance. When I point out that a serious illness or bad injury could
mean financial disaster, a painter tells me she recently had to borrow
$4000 to pay her medical billsthe cost of repairing a single finger
injured in a kitchen accident.
direct my attention to the wall where Lyns work is displayed.
It is hard to resist the sense of mystery it conveys. Is that why its
art, I wonder. Is that why photography is considered art the
sense of mystery? In the 1940s, the former teacher of photography points
out to me, when the renowned Alfred Steiglitz offered to donate his
collection to the New York Metropolitan Museum, he was snubbed on the
grounds that photography wasnt art. Its worth noting that
these were the same people to look askance at the work of his spouse,
Georgia OKeefe. Today, both OKeefe and photography are acceptable
art forms. But if takes that long, what can we do to nurture our own
The artist as advisor
the artist: If you want to make your living as an artist:
Be persistent. Develop your stack of rejections, because as long as
youre putting yourself in front of people, along the way youll
get an acceptance.
If you dont have a stack of rejections, it means youre not
doing enough to promote yourself.
all, make art that means something to you, if it doesnt, it wont
have meaning for anyone else.
success: How well youre doing is a measure of how well you live
same way that musicians need to be heard, visual artists need to be
seen, and just like musicians they need your feedback. Your questions,
your applause, and even your boos are an important part of the experience.
part of our lives, thats what being an artist is. Its what
made Lyn Miller wake up one morning and know she had to leave Buffalo
and spend the rest of her life in Asheville
as an artist.
Millers work may be seen at the Artists Roundtable Members Show
in the Front Gallery of the AAAC, 11 Biltmore Ave through Nov.12, 2004
and at the Upstairs Gallery in Tryon, NC, opening October 30.
can be contacted at LCMillerStudio@aol.com
You can also see her Floracloths at LCMillerStudio.com.
is a freelance financial writer, specializing in institutional finance.
Her articles are published in financial trade journals all over the
world. But dont bother to GOOGLE her: theyre all credited
to the executives who employ her. A former ad agency president and enthusiastic
participant of life on the New York fast track, she moved to Asheville
in 2002 with her sculptor husband, Robert Winkler. A mother of three,
a grandmother of four, and the author of three screenplays, she is dealing
with her culture shock by writing a North/South novel under her own