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Smile at Your Thoughts

Sculpting a custom planter.
Slab of recycled clays as I wedge it into a workable state.
One of my glass pieces, while still molten
Me in my ceramics studio space at Florentia Clayworks. Photo by Alberto Lau
Throwing a coiled rim onto a relief sculpture platter.

An artful journey

For years now, I've been making art in whatever materials I can get my hands on. It's a medicine, a celebration, a profound and mysterious love. It's an endless process that has me in a continuous exploration, always experimenting, envisioning, questioning, moving, serving, growing and revealing. I have a wonderful problem of making more of it than I have space for, and etsy has proved to be very helpful with that.

My first painting was inspired by watching Bob Ross bang out a realistic landscape in a half hour. As a teenager, I got really into painting graffiti until I got arrested (twice) and decided to shift my focus to painting legally. I got a scholarship to California College of Arts and Crafts, and after one semester of intensive yet restrictive foundation courses, I decided to take a year off to see if I could make it as an artist without college. I traveled to Europe to independently study the old masters.

After 2.5 months drawing and painting my way through Spain, I returned to the states to have my first solo show, and sold enough to go back to Europe and do it again. This time I went to Italy and Switzerland, and this trip was humbling. I realized that I had a lot to learn. I was constantly making drawings of the sculpture that is everywhere there. I could paint anywhere, but scuIpture was a mystery that would require new skills and facilities. I decided to return to school as an individualized major studying sculpture (ceramics, glass and metal), painting and photography.

My senior exhibition "Remembering Earth" explored humanity's interconnectedness with the landscape, what we do to the earth and what our environment does to us. It was heavy handed, and I was getting a little jaded with humanity and frustrated about the state of the world, and questioning my role as an artist. I graduated.

After moving back to Seattle, I needed to try something different. I felt that my cultural conditioning was missing something very important, and a friend told me about a 10 day silent retreat he took for free where they teach vipassana meditation, dhamma.org. I signed up and had some life changing insights during those 10 days. The deep sense of peace and happiness that came out of this meditation course became the kind of expression I felt the need to put into my art practice. If I am to make things that share a vision, I would like those things to bring an uplifting vision that inspires joy in others. Daily meditation remains an important factor in maintaining my sanity.

I began making pottery by accident. I was a substitute ceramics teacher, and after giving a demo on sculpting a face, a woman said "that's great, will you show me how to make a plate on the wheel?" I didn't really know how to, so I told her "next class", and taught myself when no one was there. I got hooked. I always wanted each piece I cut off the wheel to be a work of art, and my sculpture and painting background lent themselves perfectly to that goal. I was also searching for a way to make my work more accessible to everyone, and art pottery is a perfect way to sneak some art into the necessary rituals of everyday life. Making pots is also much faster than sculpture or painting, so I can offer it at much more affordable prices. Most of my clay work is made with clay that I recycle. I get dry blocks and scrap clay from potters who don't like clay mixing, and I soak it and wedge it back to life.

Currently I maintain a studio space at Florentia Clayworks, a ceramics co-op in Seattle where I make most of my work. I also manage the clay program, teaching pottery and ceramic art classes at Montlake Community Center.
Adrien MIller
owner, maker, designer, curator
Born in 1984, Adrien Miller works to bring beauty and peace into the world through sculpture, painting, pottery and photography. He earned a BFA from California College of the Arts in 2007. He now lives, works, and teaches in Seattle.

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