Original Horizontality

Xanthe Y. Z. Miller


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I use found and responsibly foraged objects to explore ideas of value and worth. For my work I rely on, debris and microwaste like beer bottle tops, soda can pull tabs, beverage spouts, twist-ties and toys as well as desert plant materials such as cholla, devil’s claw, ocotillo, and yucca pods. I use these materials to represent a landscape that often feels neglected, misunderstood, and misused. I like decontextualizing both produced and natural materials from where and how people usually see them to show their elegance and complexity. I’m currently working on an alphabet series using plant materials, wood, and metal foil to invoke desert places, flora, and fauna. I find the desert environment, with its strategies of resilience and endurance, an endlessly engaging subject. I’m inspired by the physical and imagined desert landscape and the sharp contrasts between the myth and the realities of the frontier. My work maps the harmonies and conflicts of the borderland.

Xanthe Y. Z. Miller grew up in a small mining town on the U.S. - Mexico border. She left to attend Macalester College in Minnesota and to study at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Oregon. Since then she has lived and worked in many parts of the United States, sticking to the coasts and borders. Returning to the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts after a 20-year absence, she felt compelled to make art using elements from this environment. To fuel her art, she has hiked and explored much of the desert southwest—Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, and southern California. She has exhibited work in Phoenix, Albuquerque, and El Paso. Her work has appeared in Superstition Review, Obra, and Camas.