BY Albert Smith
March 06 2010 5:00 AM ET
Steven Miller has been working in some form of creative expression for almost 20 years. In the nineties he divided his time between playing bass for the theatrical music group ¡TchKung!, working as a graphic designer, and doing performance art with groups P.A.N. and Paratheatrical Research.
Since 2003 he has shown work in several solo and group exhibitions across the country. In 2009 he published his first monograph, Milky, through Decode Books. In 2007, David Kiehl, Print Curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art; and Rock Hushka, Curator of Contemporary and Northwest Art, selected nine pieces from the Milky series for the Northwest Biennial at the Tacoma Art Museum. His work was also included in the Frye Art Museum’s Swallow Harder exhibition in 2006.
His work is in the permanent collection of the Tacoma Art Museum, Northern Georgia College and State University, and 4 Culture’s Portable Works.
Why are you a photographer?
I’ve liked photography since I was a child and pursued it throughout high school. I wasn’t that great though—I took one really good photograph in high school and the rest were crap. My teacher encouraged me to look into a different career. I let photography go for a decade but then decided I had to follow what I loved, so I went to college for it at age 30. My first gallery show was travel work and it did all right but a curator told me that I wasn’t going to go far doing what had already been done before. So I realized that there was work that I wanted to make with some ideas behind it instead of just photographing the world around me—that was scarier because I could fall on my face, but it’s also been much more rewarding because my work is distinctly my own now.
What catches your eye?
It’s not so much what catches my eye as what I want to make happen in front of the camera. I think a lot about what it is I want to communicate with the world before I even pick up the camera. Once I start a body of work I am often inspired by seeing someone who has a particular energy and know they’d be great for the series. At that point I think about what I’d like them to do and then ask them if they’re willing to go that far with me. They usually say yes.