Dan Miller was born in California’s Castro Valley in 1961. Diagnosed with autism, he has actively participated in the Creative Growth Art Center, located in Oakland, California, for more than 15 years. A seminal workshop for people with a range of disabilities, Creative Growth fosters creative expression within populations traditionally denied access to artmaking tools and facilities without imposing therapeutic or instructional agendas.
Dan Miller’s artwork reflects his perceptions. Letters and words are repeatedly overdrawn, often creating ink-layered masses, hovering on the page and building up to the point of obliteration or destruction of the ground. Each work contains a written recording of the artist’s obsession with objects like light bulbs, electrical sockets, food, and the names of cities and people. Dan continues to work in various media, including drawing, painting, ceramics, wood sculpture, printmaking, and other mixed-media projects.
Miller’s everyday use of language is non-normative and extremely limited, yet his artwork brilliantly employs linguistic and mathematical notation as tools of inquiry and artistic media. His drawings are comprised of words and numbers written over each other so that they are no longer legible, even while retaining the mystery and power of their embedded presence. Miller does not write words and numbers on top of each other to create a work of abstraction. On the contrary, he conjures abstract compositions through a very intense linguistic exploration of objects, places, or people. Focusing his interest on a thing as simple as a lightbulb or light or a book, the artist will repeatedly draw an image, words, and numbers related to this object until the concrete shapes, sequences, and clashes of words and numbers take over.
Working primarily with pencil, pen, and felt-tip pen on paper, Miller also uses paint, varying his palette to add texture to his already explosive sensibility. Layered elements appear to be in constant flux: emerging into view while being scratched out of existence. Simultaneously poetic, artistic, expressive, and conceptual, his work renders distinctions between such categories meaningless. An Outsider who continues to gain international attention in both artistic and literary worlds, Miller’s unprecedented work, according to Bay-Area poet Kevin Killian, “achieves a clattering poetry of infinite discrimination.”
Miller has had solo exhibitions at White Columns, Andrew Edlin Gallery and Ricco Maresca Gallery in New York, and Diane Rosenstein Gallery in LA. His work was included in the 2017 Venice Biennale and has been included in exhibitions at the Berkeley Art Museum; The Museum of Everything, London; Gavin Brown’s enterprise, Rachel Uffner Gallery and Partners & Spade, New York; Gallery Paule Anglim, Jules Maeght and 836M in San Francisco; Nina Johnson Gallery, Miami; John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Wisconsin; Galerie Christian Berst and ABCD, Paris. Miller’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Pompidou Centre, the Folk Arts Museum, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Mad Musée, and the Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne. Miller’s work is also included in the private collections of David Byrne, Cindy Sherman, Maurizio Cattelan, Martin, and Rebecca Eisenberg, Thea Westreich & Ethan Wagner, Nicolas Rohatyn, and Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn, Andy, and Kate Spade, among many others.