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Peter Miller: An American Printmaker in Japan

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on June 14, 2019 12:51

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On a recent trip to Japan, I met Peter Miller, a master printmaker living and working in Kamakura, Japan, who shares his enchantment with people through black-and-white prints which blend Japanese aesthetics with American sensibility.

When one thinks of Japanese printmakers, names like Katsushika Hokusai, Kitagawa Utamaro, or Hiroshi Yoshida come to mind. Yet on a recent trip to Japan, I met an American living in Kamakura, south of Tokyo, who may one day be added to the list: Peter Miller, a self-taught intaglio artist who etches copper with ferric chloride for his hand-press using 19th-century photogravure techniques.

Originally trained as a sociologist under Daniel Bell at Columbia and Nathan Glazer at Berkeley, he left academia after receiving his Ph.D. in 1974 because "learning was being displaced by political-correctness, and speech codes, thought-police, and quotas and preferences were assembling the elements of the stifling bureaucracy they have since become. As I did not fit any of the categories preferred by academic quota-counters, and saw the handwriting on the wall, I was fortunate to find alternative employment across the Bay at Stanford Research Institute."

That led to a job with Honda Motor Company where he was educating Japanese in "American customs and folkways (for which, of course, my education in Sociology was excellent preparation, though I could not have foreseen that while at Berkeley)."

He moved to Japan in 1981 to work as a corporate consultant. Through a client, Miller discovered UV technology, and he soon realized he could use it to make art. "It gradually dawned on me that I could bring more happiness to people through artwork than by writing reports. To simplify: Art touches the depths of the human psyche in ways that ratiocination and exposition can never do."

Since 1991, Miller has been a printmaker working in a home studio and sharing his enchantment with Japan in black-and-white prints that blend Japanese aesthetics with American sensibility reminiscent of Ansel Adams.

Miller told a television interviewer that he works in black-and-white because it is more evocative than color since each viewer may experience sensations more delicately based upon their own experiences. Likewise, subject matter seems mysterious and evocative - misty landscapes, distant vistas, tangles of nets - and combines the concrete with the abstract on an almost spiritual plane.

He has published more than 330 editions, available for viewing on his Kamakura Print Collection website. He has shown at The Yokohama Museum, Washington DC's Cosmos Club, the Palazzo dei Consoli in Gubbio, Italy, Musée Jenisch in Vevey, Switzerland, the Royal National Theater in London, the International Engraving Exhibition in Cremona, Italy, and the Lahti Triennial in Finland. His prints are in the Kamakura Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian National Museum of American Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, Fine Arts Museum of Houston, Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, the National Oriental Museum of Russia, London's Victoria and Albert Museum, and the Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian where he is (with the exception of Whistler) the only American artist represented in a collection devoted to the art of Asia.

He also writes his own blog, illustrating his conviction that while politics and economics are ephemeral, art is central.

 

Laurence Jarvik

Posted on June 14, 2019 12:51

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Source: HuffPost

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