Brooklyn-based artist Reuben Lorch-Miller makes work that is smart and evocative, using various methods and materials to explore his ideas. Recently, Lorch-Miller took part in a residency at Rocksbox Contemporary Fine Art in Portland, occupying the gallery and using it as a studio. The resulting work is currently on view at Rocksbox in a solo show titled In Cryptic Rays.
Throughout his career, Lorch-Miller has taken advantage of assorted
media to create work that is diverse but distinctly interconnected. “The
ideas are filtered through me, so there will be a consistency,”
Lorch-Miller told The Art Reserve. “I guess I have always felt that it
is more honest to admit that people and life are complicated and
The cohesive voice that filters across the work comes in the form of an emotional tone. Lorch-Miller makes entire bodies of work all at once, and often has two or three parallel projects going that refer and respond to each other. Ideas for future projects can be conceived in the present, and so an underlying progression and continuity exists.
Lorch-Miller’s process is largely based on exploration and experimentation. “I do intentional and unintentional research,” Lorch-Miller says, “this is a process of collecting and editing.” That research comes in many forms – including listening to music, watching movies, traveling, and viewing other art. Following research, Lorch-Miller makes material choices based on what he says are “pragmatic, conceptual, and formal ideas,” often creating transitional pieces as a means to figure out or follow a direction or concept. In an attempt to be economically sustainable, a certain aesthetic language develops. “I’m not making anything out of diamonds or stainless steel,” Lorch-Miller says.
This idea of sustainability relates to a punk or underground sensibility that can be seen in Lorch-Miller’s work. In his 20’s, Lorch-Miller lived in Olympia, Washington where he says “doing projects, producing your own culture, making art, being in bands and being poor was encouraged and the norm.” Lorch-Miller’s material choices seem to be a direct result of this personal history – often working in black and white, which is a style that he says came out of economic pragmatism. Additionally, an interest in music has resulted in a fixation on tones and rhythms. “The experience of being completely involved in a sensory way,” Lorch-Miller says, “Basements, dark spaces, guitar cabinets and drum sets all have artistic appeal.”
While Lorch-Miller’s work is clearly personal, he uses techniques to remove himself from the final presentation. “A lot of the ideas are implied and demonstrative rather than explicit and illustrative,” he says. This approach results in an empowering experience for the viewer that allows for personal discovery. There is a bold and energetic quality to the work, but also an element of mystery that quiets interaction with the objects.
For his current show, Lorch-Miller spent two weeks working in the gallery space of Rocksbox, creating collages and clay sculptures. An interest in what Lorch-Miller calls “improvisational building” led him to clay, which he chose for its physical and aesthetic properties. By not firing the sculptures (which he says worried some ceramicists), Lorch-Miller was able to achieve a desired color and texture – creating pieces that are rigid and severe while also being “a little loose, imperfect and busted.” The accompanying photocopy collages make reference to and play off of the sculptures, resulting in a dialogue. There is an other-worldly boundlessness to the works that is perhaps due to the pairing of complex observations with stripped down, basic materials and processes.
Lorch-Miller has a handful of future projects lined up – including more clay sculptures (which he plans to fire and glaze), a picture book, and recordings with his performance group Blank+Noiry. “Right now,” he says, “I want to chill out for a bit and watch movies or read. Something always comes up.”In Cryptic Rays
October 16 – November 28, 2010
To see more of Reuben Lorch-Miller’s work, visit his website: www.lorch-miller.com