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Ruth Miller - Embroidered Portraiture

Our featured artist series has given me the opportunity to be in touch with wonderful fiber artists, and now I am so very pleased to tell you about Ruth Miller who creates exquisite embroidered portraiture.  

New York City native Ruth Miller, who works primarily in the medium of hand-stitched embroidery, considers herself part of the contemporary Realist Portraiture Renaissance. She attended The Cooper Union School of Fine Art where she received drawing instruction from Stefano Cusumano and learned the psychological effects of color from Bauhaus-trained Hannes Beckman. Like many of us, needlework was passed down to her by her mother and aunts.

Ruth received one of the first New York City Urban Artist Initiative grants, was a grant panelist for the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and an Art in Embassies artist from 2008 to 2010. She currently lives on the Mississippi Gulf Coast where she was granted a Mississippi Arts Commission Fellowship for 2012. She continues to use her art to explore issues arising from the intersection of intimacy and philosophy.

Here is a link to a personal conversation with Ruth on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTGSG2-dIFk

TCS: Tells us about contemporary Realist Portraiture Renaissance.

RM: The art that usually takes up most of the ink on discussions of contemporary painting is created by artists who make some form of conceptual art. Much of that by famous names is fabricated by others embpoyed by the artist, so much so that one would assume that technical representation skill is now old fashioned and undervalued. My spirit rebels against that narrow, economics based, celebrityh driven approach. There are hundreds if not thousands of artists quietly working on portraits and other figurative art.... In my opinion this is indivcative of a strong push-back against the status quo, a remaissance of sorts, a return to humanist values.

TCS: You spoke of being taught by your Aunt Mildred. What kind of craft work did she do?

RM: My Aunt Mildred was a big inspiration. her work would not be considered sophistcated, but it was alway meticulously done. She did cross-stitched table cloths, needlepoint book marks and crocheted wine bottle and toilet paper covers. She also made crocheted doilies, as did my Aunt Lucille. My mother tuaght me to sew garments....But Mildred was the only one to sell her work and she did so for many years. Although her crafts provided only a small part of her income, the fact that she was doing something she enjoyed and consistently making money at it was important to my decision to work at a home studio creating art. Mildred provided my fist personal example of a home based business.

TCS: Which artists inspire you?

RM: Japanese woodcuts, the quiet storytelling of Vermeer, Klimt because of his use of decorative patterns and color...Van Kyck as the ultimate realist. I had a chance encounter with a Sengalese artist named Papa Ibra Tall. I saw his abstrated figurative woven tapestries at an exhibition in Montreal and have been moved to use fiber as mhy primary medium ever since.