Steve Milller: Health of the Planet

In 1895 and when he German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen showed his wife an X-ray image of her hand, she exclaimed, “I have seen my death.” Almost a century later, Steve Miller—tired of art world exclamations about the “death” of painting—began to incorporate science-based imaging into his art works, which often are made in response to conversations and collaborations with noted research scientists. On a trip to Brazil in 2005 and fascinated by the beauty and complexity of the country’s tropical environment, Miller worked with Brazilian radiologists and began the ongoing project, Health of the Planet. Works in it—paintings, silk screen, works on paper, sculpture, and surfboards and skateboards—incorporate images of Amazonian species, flora, and fauna. Photography, in the 19th century was often used to collect specimens and create picture atlases of the natural world. In his multi-media works exploring environmental diversity, controversy, and stewardship, Miller both celebrates nature and reminds us of our very consequential interactions with it.