Tiffany Osedra Miller

The Galleries of The Interchurch Center Celebrates Black History Month –
Tiffany Osedra Miller
Artist’s Statement

As a painter who is also a writer, I am interested in the ways in which culture influences the imagination and the ways in which the imagination can transcend culture.

I am the New York born and raised American child of immigrants from the Caribbean islands of Jamaica and Antigua. My work, subversively and poetically underscores the impact African, Native and European cultural influences have had on my imagination.

My small format paintings and illustrations while deeply spiritual explore the Caribbean carnival consciousness. The scenes reveal the mournful, colorful, dreamful, playful, even sexual nature of humanity. From family gatherings to funerals to Antigua’s carnival or Mardi-Gras in New Orleans, I’ve been inspired by the way feelings of grief and oppression intermingle with the spirit of celebration, humor, calypso, reggae, jazz, blues and dance. As an artist, I try to capture the light and the dark, the sorrowful and the joyful, the naughty and the well-behaved.

Approaching my paintings with a poetic, surreal and carnival consciousness allows me to surrender to my grief over losing my Mother. Grief, from my perspective as an artist has taken me from mourning over the loss of her physical presence to joyfully gaining a relationship with her as an abstract presence, a powerful energy, a spirit. Unable to bear the loss consciously I can come to terms with her demise symbolically and mythologically. For me, my paintings and poetry express this loss and this gain through the surrealistic elements of Caribbean carnival expression. My Mother is a huge inspiration for me in that she was a very funny woman and as a nurse for many years was able to help her patients find a way to experience joy even though they were suffering. She had such a bawdy sense of humor, yet she was also deeply religious. She exemplified that carnival consciousness that I am so fond of.

As a painter influenced by the Caribbean carnival tradition, I am fascinated by color and texture. I enjoy painting with acrylics on textured surfaces such as cotton rag paper and latex. The Caribbean is a colorful place in its architecture, art and racial make-up. Throughout the Caribbean, to varying degrees, complexions range from the near white, to the very dark and hair textures range from the curly to the wavy, to the straight. As a result, tensions persist in terms of who, according to how much lighter one appears, has more opportunity and privilege. Some people even bleach their skin. Masks also appear quite a bit in my work. Characters even shape-shift the way they do in dreams. Through brightly colored, dream like, painterly illustration, I express the confusion and absurdity inherent in racial classification.

My dreams and the characters in them also influence my painting style. I’ve come to view my dreams as meaningful, enigmatic unconventional narratives and I enjoy expressing this unconventional narration in my work. This is most exemplified in my ongoing series of 64 paintings called, Goatwater, where I combine painted images with songs, narrative poetry and prose and examine the wild, chaotic, carnival nature of storytelling. Reality, in my paintings, though inspired by my particular cultural perspective, is flexible and unpredictable.

Tiffany Miller

Paula M. Mayo: President & Executive Director
Frank DeGregorie, Curator
THE INTERCHURCH CENTER 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10115

To inquire, please call Frank 212 . 870 . 3271