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New AAAS Art Exhibit Offers Flight of Imagination Through the Universe
Sometimes, as a meditative exercise, Sandi Ritchie Miller closes her eyes and imagines herself floating through outer space and then describes her experiences in paintings. In her "Universe Series," which opened 10 October in the AAAS Gallery, Miller twirls, splashes, and glides through colorful showers of explosions, gushing waters and waves moving on gleaming surfaces.
"When I was a kid I used to go camping in the High Sierra every summer," Miller recalled in an interview. "When you sleep outside at 10,000 feet, the stars are overwhelming! I would lie in my sleeping bag and just watch the billions of stars in the sky and wonder about what else was out there."
Her imaginative representation of the universe opened with a reception on 11 October. The show will remain on display through 5 January 2007 at the AAAS gallery at 12th and H Streets, NW, in Washington, D.C.
In her 15th solo exhibit, Miller is showing 29 pieces painted in mixed media such as enamels, inks and various chemicals on Lucite. In some of her pieces, Miller paints on both sides of the Lucite, giving her work the illusion of three dimensions. The effect of this illusion on the viewer is somewhat amusing, as it can force you to press your nose virtually against Miller's painting to figure out if there's anything inside of it.
Miller started painting about 40 years ago, after having her first child. Her best friend, an artist, was concerned that Miller wasn't getting enough intellectual stimulation at home, so she brought over materials and encouraged her to paint. Miller obliged and never stopped painting after that. She took a number of college art courses, including private lessons in England, one of the many places she has lived with her husband, who was in the U.S. Air Force.
After England, Miller and her family moved to Phoenix, Ariz., where she "got bored really quickly," she said. She had taken a stab at college several times but could never decide on a major. Finally, she decided to major in art, leading her to earn an associate's of art degree from Glendale Community College in Arizona, where she paid for tuition by selling her art to friends and neighbors. Growing restless again, she took several science classes and became quite interested in psychology, which resulted in a bachelor's of science degree from Arizona State University.
She also became intrigued by astronomy. "I took a course in college and loved it so much, even though I didn't do too well," Miller admitted. The problem was that she read astronomy magazines instead of her textbook, which didn't help her very much on exams. But the course inspired her and she began painting her "Universe Series" around this time. She's been painting the cosmos for nearly 12 years.
She has exhibited her work in dozens of U.S. and international shows. Most recently, she was invited to show her work in the prestigious 2007 Biennale of Contemporary Art in Florence, Italy.
"The AAAS Art of Science and Technology program is promotes art which is about science, by a scientist, or also art that uses materials in an innovative way," said AAAS curator Shirley Koller. "Miller's use of chemicals on plexiglass fills the last goal."
The latest exhibition is part of the AAAS Art of Science and Technology Program, established in 1985 to present science-related art of all kinds. The program's goal is to display work that reflects the centuries-old interaction of art and science. Exhibitions span the range of scientific inquiry.
The AAAS Gallery is open on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on weekends by appointment. For more information, please contact: ShirleyArtKoller@metronets.com.
11 October 2006