Hometown: Albuquerque, NM
Dates in Sitka: 2017-04
As metaphorical expressions inspired by nature, Billy Joe Miller’s work elicits possibilities of transformation and discovery. His practice often results in structures, shapes, light and sounds that frame and create contemplative, site-responsive spaces. Operating at an architectural scale, his projects are immersive and multi-sensory. He often situates his mixed-media works in publicly accessible locations not typically used for presenting art. By placing his work in and responding to specific environments, he opens up his audience to a vivid consideration of a particular place. Utilizing a variety of organic, geometric, and architectural forms (e.g. ovals, arches, windows, and doorways) to frame space, Miller’s work transcends and transforms it in order to open up new territories and perspectives.
Throughout his early life Miller was influenced by cultural and religious practices. Later he worked as a nursing assistant for people in hospice. Through these experiences, he developed an interest in storytelling, and similar rituals created around mortality. He began to experiment with collaborative dance, performance, and costuming as ways to creatively re-envision spiritual expression.
Considering the present state of trauma to the natural environment and the global political landscape, I am inspired to collaborate with vulnerable communities to make installations, interventions and inclusive art spaces. My work is a byproduct of the relationships formed, be it to a specific community, to a found material, to a place, or opportunity.
I continued working with the International District community with my piece Writha in the show At Home in the World at 516 Arts (a local non-profit art space/venue in Albuquerque). The project explored belonging and place, examining how we relate to each other, ourselves and our countries as globalization forces us to rethink issues of nationality, citizenship and migration. I sat and ate with 7 different families, couples or individuals from my neighborhood, speaking with them about their experiences of home, including immigration and cultural practices. We then collected locally found materials and made artworks inspired by our experiences of home.
Morning Glory by Billy Joe Miller, Nina Dubois, residents of Albuquerque’s International District and Artful Life, 2014.
In 2014 I was chosen along with four other local artists to work on a project titled The Stories of Route 66’s International District. For seven months we met weekly, engaging with International District residents and working with them on collaborative projects, creative place making, community development and the transformation of their neighborhood spaces including an art garden a theatrical performance, and a public sculpture. I was asked to lead the sculpture project, Morning Glory. With a lot of help my friend Nina Dubois and I developed and executed a design based on a long process of collaboration with the ensemble that included the ensemble sharing ideas, drawings and dreams for the neighborhood. I’m still in awe of the piece and how it came to be.
Billy Joe is part of the 2017 Tidelines Journey.