Xanthe Miller

mixed media
20 x 16 in.

Dear Earth,

I’m inspired by your places that I’m told are hard to love: deserts, dusty mountains and ephemeral rivers. This feels like a secret that I can’t wait to share. I grew up in the Sonoran desert near the border with Mexico in a small town whose survival was shaped by its relationship to the landscape, specifically the things of value that could be mined from it and shipped away to large cities. This provided me a vivid picture of beautiful and wild places scarred and permanently altered by a purely extractive relationship with nature.

Your ingenuity and resilience speak for themselves. I strive to show your beauty by using structures and strategies you’ve honed and perfected over millennia: cholla stalks, devil’s claw curls, ocotillo staves, pine cone scales, cactus thorns and yucca pods. We think we already know what a desert looks like, so I displace desert artifacts into new settings that invite a second look. By decontextualizing natural materials from where and how people usually see them, I can invite deeper exploration of their elegance and complexity.

My hope is that my work can help others see you as I see you, a system whose every piece is essential and whose totality circumscribes us all.

© Xanthe Miller