Ashley Miller was born in Aleppo, Syria and raised on the island of Guam. She currently lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico where she is completing an MFA at the University of New Mexico. Miller previously earned a BA from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Sweet Things
The still life series was photographed in a studio, captured on film, and printed in a color darkroom. Owing to their careful arrangements, the images take a stab at the unnerving sides of consumerism. The work picks and pulls at the embodied anxieties from insatiable capitalism, chewing over desire, bodies, and fetish objects.
When and where did Sweet Things begin?
The project began at Photoland at the Evergreen State College. I had graduated but without any idea of what I was going to do next. I accepted a temporary position working at Photoland (by no means was I a photographer), starting out as a curatorial assistant, which morphed into a two-year stint processing all the color film that came through the lab. Meanwhile I haunted the lighting studio and color darkroom making my own pictures. The project, maybe, was an attempt to work out a visual language in order to articulate things that I still have trouble tidying up into words.
Where do you see this project going?
Sweet Things is as complete as it can be, for now. I just had my first solo exhibition at the wonderful Blue Sky Gallery in Portland. The folks who work there are so friendly and supportive; I truly believe they like photography. I am excited by and grateful to have opportunities to share my work and display my obsessions in public. This project changed my life. I continue to make pictures and recently began a graduate program at the University of New Mexico. Currently I am detangling topics such as the hierarchy of genres, food porn, and the job of art in academia. I will have it all figured out in time for my thesis.
What helps you sustain your current creative practice?
It is an itch that must be scratched. I love that feeling of transformation, when everything falls apart, and from the ashes a new vision materializes. I am a believer in the power of the visual, if nothing else. Which is appropriate, since I spend a lot of time squinting my eyes. Inspiration comes from the most ordinary things. I am a very boring person, beholden to routines and anxieties, and it is the people in my life supporting me that makes me want to be more interesting.
What’s next for you?
I deleted my Instagram account the other day, so who knows? Anything is possible now.