Outsider Art Fair
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Dan Miller

American, 20th century.
Born 1961, Castro Valley, California.


Dan Miller was born in California’s Castro Valley in 1961. Diagnosed with autism, he has been an active participant in the Creative Growth Art Center, located in Oakland, California, for more than 15 years. A seminal workshop for people with a range of disabilities, Creative Growth fosters creative expression within populations traditionally denied access to artmaking tools and facilities, without imposing therapeutic or instructional agendas. 

Miller’s everyday use of language is non-normative and extremely limited, yet his artwork brilliantly employs linguistic and mathematical notation as tools of inquiry and as artistic media. His drawings are comprised of words and numbers written over each other so that they are no longer legible, even while retaining the mystery and power of their embedded presence. Miller does not write words and numbers on top of each other to create a work of abstraction—on the contrary, he conjures abstract compositions through a very intense linguistic exploration of objects, places, or people. Focusing his interest on an object as simple as a lightbulb or light or a book, the artist will draw an image, words, and numbers related to this object repeatedly, until the concrete shapes, sequences, and clashes of words and numbers take over. 

Working primarily with pencil, pen, and felt-tip pen on paper, Miller also uses paint, varying his palette to add texture to his already explosive sensibility. Layered elements appear to be in a constant flux: emerging into view while being scratched out of existence. Simultaneously poetic and artistic, expressive and conceptual, his work rendersdistinctions between such categories meaningless. An Outsider who continues to gain international attention in both artistic and literary worlds, Miller’s unprecedented work, according to Bay-Area poet Kevin Killian, “achieves a clattering poetry of infinite discrimination.”

- Jenifer P. Borum


Selected Exhibitions

2013, Creative Growth: Dan Miller & Judith Scott, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield

2013, 40 Years: New Work by Dan Miller & William Scott, Creative Growth Art Center, Oakland

2012, Graphein, Galerie Christian Berst, Paris

2008, Glossolalia: Languages of Drawing, Museum of Modern ArtNew York

2007, Dan Miller, White Columns Gallery, New York

Selected Collections

Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT
Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne
Museum of Modern Art, New York

Selected Bibliography


Higgs, Matthew, Creative Growth: Dan Miller and Judith Scott, exhibition catalogue, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, 2013.

Karlins, N.F., "Wild Ride," Artnet, July 28, 2010.

Borensztein, Leon, and Tom di Maria, One is Adam, One is Superman: The Artists of Creative Growth, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2004.

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