Nature, both literal and in the abstract

by Jeff Laughlin

If déjà vu encompasses return visitors of Fahrenheit Kollectiv, it might be because they have seen this artist before. Tristin Miller’s art adorned the walls of the downtown salon when they opened, so it made sense that she would be invited back for their one-year anniversary.

In all three areas of the open space, she pays tribute to Japanese culture, nature and the many phases of the moon with drawings, a painting and landscapes.

The salon celebrated its anniversary on March 1, but Miller’s work will remain hanging for those getting haircuts or those curious through April.

Miller’s fascinations with nature began with what she did not know.

“I became really fascinated with the most recent solar eclipse,” she said. “I’m inspired by natural imagery. I was also really fascinated by the Venus Transit.”

“Nature is very volatile, very harsh,” Miller added. Along the side wall of Fahrenheit, a series of small moon movements lead to a larger work entitled “Je Suis un Petit Volcan,” or “I am a Little Volcano.” While the other pieces deal in black-and-white, “Volcan” provides an explosion of color. Depicting an erupting Mount Fuji, the painting leads to interpretation.

“A lot of people thought it was a person’s head exploding,” Miller said. It’s not too far of a stretch since she described the painting as “a direct metaphor of an emotional landscape.” Either way, the painting emotes an attractive contrast to the nearby set of smaller drawings.

Not to say the moon series is unattractive. Linear and sensible, the drawings are a mixture of zen and natural bounty. Miller’s drawings resemble woodcarvings. Like slivers of light, her lines cover space in lunar representations — some literally representative, some abstract. Each drawing could be a topographical map or a windswept interpretation until the final piece, “Moon Series/ Silver/ 1,” bears an actual representation.

The back area of Fahrenheit contains drawings of Alaska. Miller took pre-existing photos of Alaskan nature and added her own deft touch.

“The images lead to abstraction, which I further abstracted,” Miller said. The pictures come from odd vantage points and lend to a different perspective on already gorgeous views.

The acrylic lines run the length of indentions in some spots and surround the pictures with a glow that nature cannot produce. Thematically, this runs through each room. Nature’s power is a representative entity in each piece, but artistic control prevails.

The front room pieces show correlation between nature and human thought. Each drawing contains a greeting or phrase inside a full moon.

“Goodbye.” “Hi.” Each has a feeling of movement inside similarly playful explorations of circles inside squares. Distinguished from their welcoming exterior, the four pieces vary between white and black backgrounds. They use just a bit of spatial distance— the corners of each are untouched—to keep the forms of text and drawing from overtaking the eye.

“If I had to pick a title for the entire motif, ‘It’s Lighter Than You Think’ would be it,” Miller said.

“It’s Lighter Than You Think” has complex leanings. As you get to know the drawings, however, the works are startlingly simple. Each wall and each piece present a view of nature that differentiates from the norm while representing that norm.

When Miller designs the moon, or redesigns pictures of the Alaskan landscape, she calcifies the importance of her subjects. Like a wind map reminds you of exactly how wind works, Miller reminds you that the moon moves above us in mysterious and important fashions. When the snow sticks to mountains or freezes lakes, it does not do so passively.

Miller’s eye for nature’s grasp on our lives is a passionate and lively display. “It’s Lighter Than You Think” is heavily fortified with just the right amount of detail, something nature certainly has in abundance.


Fahrenheit Kollectiv: 313 S. Greene St., Suite 201, Greensboro