Visiting Artist at ISU
By Sarah Foote
November 10, 2017
The work of Reuben Lorch-Miller is a study in pragmatism. Formed by the context in which they are made, his pieces are able to reach greater potential through the limitations present in their creation. Such limitations include technology, environment, economy, portability, and the artist’s own ineptitude with certain materials. Just as much of his work is executed in black and white, so too do the ideas executed in his print and sculpture contrast so highly. Permanence and impermanence, singular preciousness and the pervasiveness possible in mass production, essence and efficiency subtly mingle in the clean lines of his compositions.
The influence of Russian Suprematists and Constructivists is immediately apparent in Lorch-Miller’s work. Texture and artifact create suggestions of form that float in lost spaces, futuristic and desolate. These influences manifest in his sculpture, particularly in the Odd Time pieces. Permanence and impermanence cohabitate in these slotted towers, which due to their construction, are able to be collapsed, transported, and preserved, as necessitated by the artist’s West Coast tour. The interchangeability of the pieces, however, make the reconstruction inexact, preventing the form of the sculpture from being precisely replicated from installation to installation. The essence of the piece though, remains the same and is only heightened by the efficiency of the making.
Efficiency and directness also play into Lorch-Miller’s print work. A particularly interesting practice is his collecting of flyers and posters from the places he visits. He then photocopies or recreates these from memory, using them in his collage and installations. These seemingly mundane, amateur posters have a directness and urgency to them that Lorch-Miller admires. The subject matter, which ranges from bizarre to ordinary and everywhere in between, is secondary to the economy of their design. Information was fitted, often clumsily, into a limited space, then mass produced and sent out into the world. Their ability to reach a wide audience counterbalances their low production value, adding a layer of outside connection to Lorch-Miller’s work. There still exists a comfort and sense of familiarity in these badly set fonts on copy shop colored paper which bring a human warmth and awkwardness to his clean, decisive sculptures and collage.
What underscores the practice of Lorch-Miller is his ability to embrace the humanity present in all parts of the creative process. Pragmatism and empathy work together to make work that succinctly balances form and content. Acceptance of limitation and learning from the process have created freedom within focus for Lorch-Miller. His work is a balance of opposites, achieved through a self-awareness of what is “enough”, an awareness many an artist would do well to achieve.
Images courtesy of the artist.