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Lisa Miles

Artist Statement


My latest artist books meditate on the book as an artifact – a tool for communication across continents and centuries. Inspired by ancient bookmakers, I create portals to unknown times, places, and human cultures. I am interested in language transmission, translation, and decipherment. The textual visual elements in my books allow the audience ample room for interpretation. Using handmade paper and hand-printing, I explore gradient and getting lost in the liminal. By presenting coded hieroglyphs, multilingual texts, and cross-cultural narratives, my artist books and prints speak to a universal audience that transcends a single language or cultural perspective. I seek to break down physical and imagined borders and offer connections across time and space. I find satisfaction in devoting long hours to labor-intensive processes. I am involved first hand in the creation of materials, form, and content – which all inform each other. Starting with the fiber preparation process, papermaking allows me to make subtle decisions regarding the texture, color, and thickness of my substrate. This act establishes a direct intimacy with each piece. My recent body of work consists of cryptic bark paper relics that might be from either the future or the past. Approximating traditional methods, I beat my bark papers by hand using a lava rock on a wooden board. By incorporating modern advancements alongside archaic practices, I examine the role of humans as tool users and makers of meaning. As a 21st century artist, I am reacting against the Technological Revolution by returning to the techniques and origins of early human civilization. I am committed to striking a sustainable balance between our current environment and limited resources. My artist books are meant to give pause and time to meditate on a communication that is beyond our current capacities for understanding. When presented with my work, I ask the audience to slow down and reflect on the bigger picture – the scale of the human timeline and our place in it, our innate yearning to communicate, and our habitual compulsion to try and make sense of the universe.

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