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Columbus Makes Art Presents Cody Miller on His Inspirations, Quarantine Projects and Adjudicating for Art Possible Ohio

Megan Fitze Megan Fitze Columbus Makes Art Presents Cody Miller on His Inspirations, Quarantine Projects and Adjudicating for Art Possible OhioCody Miler in his studio.
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Art Possible Ohio’s exhibition Accessible Expressions Ohio has gone digital this year, with new artists featured daily on Art Possible’s social media feeds through May 24. Megan Fitze, director of programs for Art Possible Ohio (formerly VSA Ohio), interviewed one of this year’s exhibition judges, longtime Art Possible Ohio artist and friend, Cody Miller.

Megan: Who are you and what do you do?
Cody: I am a mixed media artist who resides in Columbus. I work with magazine collage, acrylic paint and charcoal. The patterns and odd configurations I stumble upon are an integral part of conveying the endless layers of humanity – an old 1885 second grade reader or letters from a father to his son during World War II that I collect and store for the next piece. The Scriptures, the writings of Thomas Merton and the music of Tom Waits are all important influences in my work. They are ingredients in creating, as Ben Myers says, a “horizon of this dark world where we glimpse the startling first glow of dawn, the surprising appearance of grace ‘out of the depths’ (Psalm 130:1).” I use metaphors, analogies and other related devices to convey beauty that often comes disguised as a loss, failure or unwelcome change.

Megan: Who are some of your artistic inspirations?
Cody: Shaun Tan, Egon Schiele, Philip Burke, Jack Unruh, Deborah Griffing (a local gem). The music of Radiohead, Tom Waits,  R.E.M. and the writing of Flannery  O’Conner, to name a few.

Megan: What is your connection with Art Possible Ohio? Why did you agree to adjudicate this year’s exhibition?
Cody: I’ve been connected to Art Possible Ohio/VSA for 25 years. The organization has been an amazing resource for the artists I have worked with over the years. The AEO exhibition has been a major launching pad for the careers of numerous individuals. The organization has also been instrumental in serving as a liaison between the Ohio Arts Council’s ADAP grants and the artists’ that grant serves. All of this, and much more, is done with a kindness and patience that I think sometimes gets overlooked.

Cody Miller

Megan: What did you take away from the adjudication process?
Cody: How we the judges, came to very different conclusions on the art that was chosen.

Megan: What do you think is the best thing about the Columbus art scene right now?
Cody: At this very minute, the myriad of ways organizations like the GCAC and the Ohio Arts Council look out for the artists of this city. There has always been a certain tone of kindness and a active listening that organizations like this and others throughout the city portray. It’s a trickle down theory that I believe works. The artists in Columbus, as a whole, exude much of that same spirit. I sense that most of us are readily there to help each other. It’s one of the main reasons I so love this town.

Megan: What is keeping you busy during this time of quarantine?
Cody: I recently finished a commission, and started a new one, with a third one possibly around the corner. The studio where I teach, the Goodwill Art Studio, is currently closed, so during that time I’m working in supported living three days a week.

I’m enjoying more walks with my wife and even more opportunities to get slaughtered by her when we play Scrabble.

I still volunteer at one of our church’s food pantries on Saturday — the need is greater than ever.

Megan: Share a picture of yourself or a project you are working on!
Cody: The image shared is a recent commission I finished entitled “A Box of Darkness Into Light III.” The image is based off Psalm 18:28 and a poem from Mary Oliver: “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness / It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

A Box of Darkness Into Light III, Cody Miller.

See new artists featured every day through May 24 in Art Possible Ohio’s exhibition Accessible Expressions Ohio.

Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting and advancing the arts and cultural fabric of Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. During the COVID-19 crisis, the Arts Council is maintaining a list of virtual arts experiences at ColumbusMakesArt.com/Virtual. The public is also invited to contribute to the Arts Council’s fund: Emergency Relief for Artists fund.

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