Forensic animator exhibits his work at area art gallery


By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Curtis Miller, owner of the forensic animation company Miller Visualization in Howell, is exhibiting his photography along with work by acrylic artist Tom Nuzum in “Natural Allies,” running through March 5 at River Gallery Fine Art, 120 S. Main Street in Chelsea.

The two artists, who met 10 years ago and became good friends, will give a talk at the gallery on Saturday, February 12 at 2 p.m. Miller, whose brother Nelson is the associate dean of Cooley Law School in Grand Rapids, was featured in the Winter 2009 issue of MOTION magazine, a quarterly publication of The Legal News, for his digital work in recreating the scenes of traffic accidents.

Miller, who earned a bachelor of fine arts degree at Albion College and studied industrial design at the University of Michigan, has exhibited in Grand Haven, West Bloomfield, Brighton, Flint, Walled Lake, and Howell. He previously owned The Works, specializing in custom furniture design and production.

 “My photographs are born of my love for the landscape surrounding my home,” he says in his artist statement. “It’s a landscape of rural farms and orchards, wide-open spaces dotted with farmhouses and buildings. I like to photograph during the quiet times of year when the fields lie dormant. They are contemplative, often moody images that invite the viewer to consider their place in this world.

“Vast acres of harvested corn lie under snow, punctuated by patches of forest, buildings and fences. Carefully maintained orchards roll through hills. Worn but well cared-for farm buildings contribute simple, classic forms to this ordered landscape. They reflect the presence and works of men who remain unseen.

“The photographs have a strong formal quality created by bold contrasts, simple forms and dramatic perspective. The deep spaces in these photographs are defined by receding rows of crops, orchards and fence lines. The varying atmospheres of fog and snow contribute to the sense of unending space.”

Over the two years during which the photographs in “Natural Allies” were made, impermanence and the passage of time were very much on Miller’s mind, he says in his artist statement.

 “Those issues are evident everywhere in the images in this show. Whether it is the windrows of poplars standing sentinel over sleeping orchards, long vistas along Michigan’s spectacular coastlines, or the workings of wind and wave on rock and sand, the passage of time is everywhere in these images.

“In these photographs you will find the long span of geologic time evident in the great dunes and carved bedrock, the slow passage of the seasons embodied in the snows of winter, the blooms of spring, the colors of fall, the faster passage of the days recorded in the sweep of the sun’s shadow, and the steady metronomic rhythm of the waves washing endlessly onto the shore. All, at least in my mind, asking the questions what is our place in this world, how much time do we have, what will remain of us when we are gone?”

Miller, who does forensic animation work such as accident recreations for attorneys, says he doesn’t consciously set out to work with a particular topic or make a specific statement when he goes out to take photographs.

“Rather, I go to beautiful, natural places and I photograph what visually attracts me. I become immersed in framing images, thinking usually in formal terms of composition, line, texture, value and balance. When I return home, I look at what I’ve shot, see what is speaking to me in those images and later return to enlarge on those themes.”

Events in his personal life have colored these images, with and without his awareness, he says.

“My subconscious seems to have shaped every image to tell the story of what my heart has been feeling. It fascinates me that my emotional life finds such ingenious ways of expressing itself without my conscious awareness. I am thankful that it has been there, speaking quietly to me as I visit each location, and frame each image. It’s evidence to me that I am making work that is worthwhile.

“I hope you can feel the whisper of those voices in these images and that they speak to you as they have been speaking to me.”