Apryl Miller credits her artistic career to being raised in a large, creative DIY family. Her work reflects the tradition she was taught as a child; that of making something your own by making it yourself. She came to visual art in later life, crafting a vernacular art environment in which she would raise her young children. In this post, self-proclaimed ‘accidental artist’ Apryl talks about her inspiration and how she came to create her visionary ‘nest.’
“My journey as an artist is deeply rooted in my childhood. We were a creative, DIY family and we had that attitude, coupled with a belief in the miracles a hand can fashion. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of kids and it seems we were always making stuff and entertaining ourselves with different art projects. All our food was made from scratch and we produced both items of necessity and those of more artistic value, like holiday cards and Christmas ornaments. I was steeped in the can do ethos of making things and there was a sense of comfort and pleasure to be derived from all our activities. My work reflects the tradition I was taught as a child, that of making something your own, by making it yourself.
I was raised in the Pacific Northwest and like many before me, I had to heed the siren call of the bright lights, big city and head out east. I was in a fashion design program in Seattle and I decided that I wanted to go to NYC to finish my degree. I had to find out who I could be and what I might do if I were to head out into the unknown. If I didn’t go, I knew I would always wonder “what if”. I called the airline, and bought a one way ticket to NYC, just like in the movies.
A lifelong poet, I came to visual art later in life, when the apex of my background resulted in crafting a home for my young daughters. It was conceived as a creative wonderland for their little souls to be nurtured and supported, a place where their imaginations could soar, unfettered. But what I did not factor in, was how it would do the same for me, too, as we lived out our lives here.
My space has been described in the press as “one of the most immersive, intricate, habitable art installations in the city…it is extremely important when looking at the history of immersive art installations…” And my personal favourite, “Apryl has changed the way we think about living…” Since crafting my home, like a magician with an endless silk scarf, I have continued to produce with an unabated creativity.
As I worked, I had no grand scheme, no plan beyond making a creative, expressive living space. I proceeded without rules, because I did not know them. I worked intuitively, which is the way I continue to this day. I was a mom making a nest for my children, using the poetry of color, the poetry of asymmetry and banning the language of ubiquity and the colors of black and white. In the process I came to myself as an artist, in a really delightful way.
Most objects were custom made or reworked designs, just for each specific space. An example would be my “Sculptures Masquerading as Furniture”, which are covered in vintage 1960’s garment fabrics. Part of my art is stripping away barriers, and by using garment fabrics I am rendering the experience of furniture more personal and intimate. The concepts behind these pieces and the stories I tell with them takes them to a realm where they transcend furniture. My intention was to create a world unto itself, so people would be captured intellectually and emotionally in the environment. By using few known references, people are able to have a dialogue with the space and to remain connected within it.
There are many aspects which distinguish my space from design and place it in the realm of art. The most compelling is that it is about personal expression and everything here is a reflection of my history, experiences and beliefs. There are stories in the carpets, pictures of my children in the kitchen table legs and the messages flow and tumble from room to room. Each space has been obsessively accented through the use of dimensionality, patterns, color and the organic balance of cacophony. When I work, I juxtapose patterns, textures, shapes, materials and colors. By mixing together that which does not belong, a peace is established that contains both energy and calmness.
My work is about our universal state of imperfection and how it binds us together. There are installations throughout the house that address this topic, most notably in the dining room. It is home to a large installation titled, “The Where and The How Left you and your Silence.” It’s a commentary on the fragility of our human relationships.
There are sprawling carpets with tear drops, which is part of my iconography, a child sized loft for one daughter and a stage for the other, over 150 paint colors adorning the walls, with patterns painted inside some of the closets. The bathrooms have custom tile work which I created by cutting up the tiles and reassembling them in my own idiosyncratic fashion. Additionally I drew images on the undersides of clear tiles with Sharpies, continuing the concept of rendering the tiles anew.
I often think of myself as an accidental artist, as my artistic expression was revealed organically, as I lived my life. As my need for handmade goods increased, my dormant creativity rose to the surface and showed its face to the sun. My story began when I was a small child, and it continued to flourish with the arrival of two more small children, who I desired to protect and nurture, with the full force of my artistic powers. I could not have predicted that I had a latent creativity and no one is more surprised about all of this than me. I hope to continue sharing the story of my space and of my personal work, as I feel it is my calling and I aim to use what God has given me.”