OCTOBER 2018 - PETER MILLER, SEATTLE
Peacekeeping is the first show from the Conflict of Interest project series. The show is about the contradictions of the seduction of war and power, and our desire for peace and security.
The show is currently on view at Peter Miller in Seattle, Washington until October 30, 2018.
Why is the show called “peacekeeping”?
I like words that have double meanings. I often name shows where I mean the opposite of the obvious meaning and that carries an undertone of humor. One was called, Fluff. Another was called, Fiber Substitute. My work often deals with complex and serious subject matter where the only counterpoint is humor. There’s a reason that we balance tragedy with comedy. We can only handle so much tragedy before we must either dissolve in a puddle of tears, or come up laughing at the sheer absurdity of living in the face of debilitating pain and suffering.
What is the show about?
The Conflict of Interest project is about war and human conflict, and our attraction to the machines of war, which is in conflict with our desire for peace and security. The first show of this project is in Seattle, which is interesting because of the city’s known history of protest, political activism, and anti-war efforts during America’s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11. The one message I want to convey is that if we say we truly want peace, then we must study war and human conflict. Like the butterfly, which flaps its wings and one day causes a hurricane, I believe war begins with the individual person who feels conflicted within. I believe we must look at the root cause of war. That is where the answers lie. And, the idea of “answers lying," may be another double meaning.
Why do you have helicopters and tanks in your work?
As an artist I can play somewhere in the space between journalism and science fiction. I want to look objectively at the world to understand it directly as an experience, while also looking for the meaning behind things and events. The helicopter is most associated with the Vietnam War. As an object the helicopter's long rotor blades represent arms stretching outwards. I see it as representing man as both rescuer and hero, and as attacker and villain. The tanks represent perseverance and determination. They also represent brute force and domination. Both of these machines represent the bright minds who invented them, and the brutality of mankind. I wonder how can we appreciate those bright minds and the incredible inventions they designed and built, while also looking honestly at ourselves as conflicted people lashing out at what we see in the mirror.
What is one thing you would like people to take away from seeing the show?
I think paint is pure emotion. And painting is an expression of pure emotion. I don’t feel like I have many, or any, other outlets to express my feelings. I especially don’t feel like I have a place to talk about complex issues like war. We live in a culture that bans discussion of complicated matters in public. It’s socially unacceptable to talk in casual situations about the consequences of war, or the seductive quality of heroism and masculinity, or the difficulties of facing one’s own nation’s participation in atrocities of war and human brutality. The one thing I want people to take away is to see that it’s possible to think about and react to what’s happening in the world in a way that illuminates and empowers people to participate. I am an optimist. I believe empowering people to participate in the world is how we increase our quality of life and appeal to our better angels, even when it is difficult.
What’s next in the Conflict of Interest project series?
I want to continue creating and showing work that raises our collective curiosity and that reflects on our increasingly interconnected global lives. I want to fuel imagination and critical thinking, because that is how we will solve the challenges we face. I want to show this work, and get people involved, both inside and outside the US. Do I believe that painting can get people to be interested in the world? Yes, I do. It has already.
304 Alaskan Way South, Post Alley, Seattle, Washington, 98104 USA
Located in Seattle’s Pioneer Square at First Avenue and Main Street behind Bread of Life Mission.
Monday - Saturday 10am - 6pm
All funds raised from the show contribute to future exhibitions and new work in the Conflict of Interest project. To find out more or to request a price list, please contact the studio or visit Peter Miller in Seattle. All works range in price from $1,200 - $5,800 USD and are able to be shipped worldwide.