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Works by intermedia artist Larry Miller will be displayed Oct. 21-Dec. 7 at Lafayette’s Williams Center for the Arts gallery in an exhibition titled “Either/Or.”

A reception for the artist will be held 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, in the gallery. The event is free and open to the public.

Miller will give a brown bag lecture on the exhibition noon Friday, Nov. 16, in Williams Center room 108. Lunch may be brought or purchased for $3. The event is open to the public.

Later that day at 8 p.m. in the Williams Center Black Box, Miller will direct a FluxConcert. A program of Fluxus short performance pieces will be interpreted by Miller, Lafayette students, community participants, and cellist Jean Jeanrenaud. The FluxConcert is the final program in this year’s Fringe Festival. Miller conducted FluxConcerts at Lafayette in 1991 and 1995. To inquire about participating in the FluxConcert, call 610-330-5361 or email The performance is free and open to the public.

Miller draws from a broad palette of traditional and new art media to create works that invite viewers to consider the distinctions between scientific, artistic, and theological models of thinking. Miller’s long career has been distinctly exploratory, both in its incorporation of unorthodox sculptural materials — such as carrots, chocolate, and fingernails — and in utilization of unusual methods, including the participation of hypnotists, psychic mediums, and consultant scientists.

Whether addressing ancient issues of religious symbolism or the futuristic possibilities of genetic science, Miller illuminates thorny philosophical questions in works bearing his signature style of provocative wit and irony.

“For 30 years, Larry Miller’s art has been investigating transformation and making us question why paradigms are formed and altered,” writes Robert S. Mattison, Marshall R. Metzgar Professor of Art History, in his essay, Larry Miller: Either/Or. “Through his art, Miller intends to lead his viewers into ambiguous, and thus more thoughtful, positions which challenge long-held assumptions.”

While the selection of works in this exhibition ranges from the simple presentation of a row of fresh carrots in Line (1970) to the conceptual complexities embedded in his Genetic Code Copyright project begun in 1989, a common thread is the artist’s emphasis upon “performative” elements that animate the work in the viewer’s mind or solicit physical participation. Like Line, Matter and Energy (1974), a configuration of lead castings submerged in acid and alkaline solutions, undergoes natural physical changes over the course of the exhibition. In I Too (1986), Miller presents a video installation with eye pieces and earphones designed for an individual viewer in which a mesmeric program delivers voices and pictures to the right and left halves of the brain simultaneously. In referring either specifically to the science of biological processes or to the codified symbols of religious doctrine, Miller’s art renders the concrete nature of the human body and the more elusive qualities of the human psyche in poetic terms.

Several works encourage viewers to contemplate the underlying purpose of religious icons. By making visible his personal sense of spiritual experience through art-making, Miller offers fresh ways for others to reflect upon the constituent substances of body, mind, and spirit, and upon the presence of artistic impulse in ritual objects and acts. For example, the doctrine of transubstantiation is an integral element in the video installation Across Purpose (An Internalization) (1969/1998), which prompts the viewer to contemplate the interaction between physicality and spirituality. Another is King’s Evidence (1988), a sculptural work based upon religious ritual; in this instance, a specific body posture is required of a participant who wishes to fully experience the work.

Finding many parallel interests among scientists, theologians, and artists in matters of human inheritance, Miller has focused on the DNA molecule as his primary subject since the late 1980s. Considered a pioneer among many artists now addressing the burgeoning field of genomic science, Miller has been producing works that articulate some of the far-reaching implications of developing genetic technologies. Asserting that we are entering the era of a “Genetic Revolution,” he examines the social wisdom of allowing DNA to become a commodity in the marketplace. His series of works intercross issues of individual identity, political liberties, genetic ownership, economics, and ethics raised by the potentials of human cloning.

One of Miller’s earliest works citing genetics was his hand-made document, Only One (1989), claiming notarized copyright of his personal genome. Then, to enable others to claim rights to their own DNA, he expanded his idea to a wide public by producing Genetic Code Copyright fill-in forms beginning in 1992. Available now in eight languages, Miller has issued his certificates with embossed metal foil and ribbon to over 2,000 “original humans” around the world. Many thousands more have downloaded the certificate facsimile from the Internet to claim ownership rights of their own unique genetic makeup.

Miller’s art conjectures that when human cloning begins, it will not stay limited strictly to medical or fertility purposes. His illustrated text, Re Noah (1989), offers a satirical but prescient picture of a future Genetic Age in which all original plants, animals, and humans are replaced by patented, bio-engineered organisms. Since the successful cloning of Dolly the sheep in 1997 and the recently announced plans to fully replicate human beings, Miller’s absurdist scenario seems less preposterous today.

Anticipating that DNA technology will have far-reaching applications apart from medical uses, Miller has coined the term “genesthetics” to suggest that subjective aesthetic choice is inherent to the process of genetic engineering. His work Revivified Self-Portrait No. 2 (1967/1996) comments on the long-standing tradition of artists’ self-portraiture and its narcissistic connotations. In this piece, he has authorized his own cloning for the dubious purpose of replicating an early photographic self-portrait made at age 23. The installation includes the 1967 photograph, a drawing simulating the original photograph’s background, a “genomic license” authorization form, and DNA samples to foster production of a clone. At the appropriate age in the future, the artist’s clone would have the option to pose for a recreation of the original portrait made in 1967. Glibly calling this a work of “clonography,” the artist makes a thoughtful analogy between the processes of mechanical reproduction and those of biological replication. Looking beneath the wry veneer of Miller’s various forms of intermedia art, viewers can find deeper layers of meaningful correspondence between the seemingly disparate paradigms the artist references.

Since the late 1960s, Miller has been associated with the international art movement known as Fluxus. Called “the most experimental and radical art movement of the sixties,” Fluxus is considered by many art historians as the primary source of intermedia art and a formative influence on Conceptual, Performance and Installation art practice. Miller has been a primary participant and event organizer in Fluxus over the last three decades. Mattison writes in his essay, “Fluxus, an art movement born in the 1960s, used performance and objects in humorous manners to question existing artistic and social values. Miller’s art is indebted to the performance aspects of Fluxus and its irony, but he differs in the emotional tenor of his art. While Fluxus pieces manage to keep a distance from their subjects, the very definition of sixties ‘cool,’ Miller becomes more engaged. In fact, it is the play between ironic humor and emotionally laden subject matter that is one of the most powerful aspects of Miller’s art.’

Miller received his master’s in fine arts from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J. His work has been included in hundreds of exhibitions, performances, events, and publications, including the exhibit, “The American Century: Art and Culture, 1900-2000,” at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1999 and “Paradise Now: Picturing the Genetic Revolution,” a traveling group exhibition currently at the Tang Teaching Museum and Gallery at Skidmore College. Miller received Artist’s Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1979 and 1989, and a New York Fine Arts Fellowship in 1986.

The Williams Center art gallery is located in the Williams Center for the Arts, located at the corner of Hamilton and High streets on the main Lafayette campus.

Gallery hours are noon-5 p.m. Monday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Wednesday; and 2-5 p.m. Sunday, and before public performances in the Williams Center. For more information, call the gallery at 610-330-5361 or email Exhibitions are free and open to the public.

The exhibition series is presented under provisions of the Detwiller Endowment. The gallery is funded in part through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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