I just loved having the opportunity to interview the hard-working, mixed media artist Ashley Sauder Miller. Ashley excels at using interior space imagery to draw attention to the everyday occurrences that many of us take for granted. Read the interview below:
Chairs are a prevalent object found throughout your work. Was there a particular event that sparked your interest in chairs?
Yes, my grandfather passed along an heirloom rocking chair to me just weeks after my grandmother died. I had babies at the time and so he thought it would be nice for me to have this rocking chair to use. Soon after I received it, a child was visiting our house and broke the caning on the rocking chair, it was just picked at until it broke. I didn’t realize the significance I placed on that object until it was broken. I was really frustrated. I thought I could teach myself to repair the chair. I started with string and cut strips of paper and started to leave them in the caning pattern. I never anticipated this would work into my studio practice, but eventually it did. I’ve started to weave lots of found paper, string, canvas, fabric and eventually these worked their way into my two-dimensional painting work.
Are there any other objects you’ve focused on in your work? Are there any that you desire to in the future?
I’m interested in all things interior…rugs, wallpaper, rooms/spaces, textile patterns, quilts. I really work intuitively and one project/piece/series of work naturally unfolds to the next, so I really don’t have a clear idea of what direction my studio practice will go.
In addition to being an artist, you’re also the director of the Spitzer Art Center in Harrisonburg, VA. Can you explain what the Spitzer Art Center is and what it does for the community?
Spitzer Art Center is a small nonprofit arts center located in Harrisonburg Virginia that promotes the arts in the community. I’m really fortunate at Spitzer to have two amazing staff members that work under me who really do a lot of the grunt work and taking care of the day-to-day operations at Spitzer. We offer Studio space to working artists, organize exhibitions, and offer art classes and workshops for the community.Between being an artist, community leader, and mother of four, where do you find balance?
I feel like I really am lucky that all of the work I do (parenting, teaching at the University level, my involvement at Spitzer) all feed into one another. I often think of some of my artist friends who work a 40 hour week day job that has nothing to do with their creative practice, and I feel like that would be really difficult. All of the ways that I choose to spend my time fuel one another. The only way I find any kind of balance is through a supportive spouse and through really great time management. Don’t get me wrong some days it feels like I’m a crazy person trying to juggle so many things at once, but for the most part I feel really lucky that I’m able to spend my time on the things that I really feel like are important.
If you could give three tips or pieces of advice to art-lovers about purchasing art, what would they be?
Buy what you like.
Go visit artists in their studios to get a better sense of what their work and working process is like.