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Boobs, honey pots and fannies. As a presentation of lovely lady bits, painter Morgan Miller delves into anti traditional classic portraiture in drastic crops and angles, imparting an undoubtedly intimate visual effect. Peach and tea rose tones against cerulean backdrops and celeste tunics—soft, blended oils form bare breasts from under shirts, feathered bums take form with bursts of canary, salmon and cobalt highlights, and tender tufts stand as focal points against delicate belly buttons and muted canvases. Painted on wood, the forms take life in shifting shapes, light and movement.

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“I’ve always been fascinated with portraiture, the female form and sexuality…in particular, associations of identity and fluidity,” Miller says.

She explains that her last few series have been geared towards exploring genres and their boundaries, with the shirts series as an attempt to make “sweeter de-sexualized” portraits in a creative space that is often deemed salacious or even inappropriate.

“The changes between nudity and nakedness when clothing is or isn’t present is always such a dramatic line. Especially in media spheres. I wanted to play with states of undress without sexualizing the subject. The ladies series is much quieter to me. The scale of the images are much larger, around 3ft by 4ft, and warm cream tones keep the portraits calming to the eyes. For me these portraits had much more to do with the space and holding power of the bodies presented.”

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Using oil pigments and oil crayons, Miller typically paints on wood or particle board, offering depth and singularity to the medium. Working on the porous surfaces, she says her layered washes function more like watercolors than standard heavier oil paints on canvas.

“It’s not the most forgiving way to use oils. The oil washes are light and delicate showing through to the wood grain surface, but at the same time a lot of elbow grease is used for blending. I more often than not, end up on my hands and knees working on the floor.”

However, it’s not necessarily the effect that she’s drawn to, but rather the smell.

“Maybe that’s odd, but I’m a sucker for a good linseed oil. I find oil consistencies and mixing processes incredibly satisfying.”

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Her process is, as any practice, a sense of meditation where she dives into a transformative moment to be present and active in her work. As an emotional contingency, she finds it difficult to share and show her pieces, but through the course of interaction, has discovered that she is rather stimulated by personable influence; and has been “easing open the door for exchanges ideas.”

“People make a lot assumptions about who my models are and want to know which pieces are self portraits. While I don’t mind the direct connection of names to paintings, I find it much more interesting to see what they can evoke with less context.”

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Growing up amongst painters, potters, librarians, mathematicians, musicians and craftsmen shuttling between Texas and California, Miller considers how creativity has been a constant in her life. Drawn to art critical work in museum studies and curatorial ventures in her 20s while living in New York, she connected with erotic art and traditional painting of the human form.

“I’ve continued in that vein with my present day painting even as much of my day to day work has transitioned towards reproductive healthcare.”

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Within her new scope as a student midwife, she has delved into exploring where society draws the line in regards to comfort. Currently she is working on another series to be shown this fall/ winter continuing with the concept of fluidity of bodies; comparing physical conceptions of the body as a vessel with how culture views identities and psyches, and where that exists.

“Bodies are so transformative in every moment of the day, and yet so much of the culture I was raised in resounds around concepts of its containment and action as a vessel… I find it intriguing to see levels of discomfort when those containers seem to be broken. Everyday I see the body being so much more fluid and transient and transformative than what I felt like had been imprinted on me in my youth.”

For instance, she explains how phlebotomy (the process of making an incision in a vein with a needle) has influenced her painting:

“Witnessing variant reactions to blood draw and blood letting feeds this larger perception of identity. For many people I see the anxieties of breaking this physical shell that holds a sense of self. All of this is of course more often subtle, but I find it engaging especially when broadened to perceptions of female physiology. I personally feel there is a lot of work to be done in disengaging these processes from a sense of societal shame.”

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Another facet in her periphery is the origin of discomfort.

“Is it societal influence towards politeness and ideas of “cleanliness” or is it an innate biological anxiety? Is it primal or is contrived? For me these are all points of fluidity and perceptions of self that strongly contribute to my portraiture.”

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She defines the creation of art in itself as a time to be “genuine and intelligent with your actions, a sense of thoughtfulness in what you do or make or how you react and connect.”

As a color junkie, Miller loves picking apart tones and shades as they appear in light. Though her pieces are sometimes deemed as provocative, the natural hues and flowing blending exude a formalized, more conventional approach to her otherwise audacious bare jugs and pink canoes.

“I love seeing my work anywhere. Not in a careless flighty way, because nudity shockingly still seems to shock. Put it in the entryway of your house, office, bedroom, bathroom, you name it. I find it all charming. While my house may be covered in vaginas and butts and boobs and you name it, I love when the normalcy of it spreads to basically anywhere. I still think the large 3ft by 4ft vaginas look fabulous over a sofa!”

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Something about her that no one else knows?

“Well, I’m not very good at keeping my own secrets…most everyone knows my unabashed deep true love for Nicky Cage already. Other than that I’m infatuated with sharks.