e-mail: Thomas Miles
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Thomas Miles (Philadelphia, PA) works at the nexus of multiple visual art forms, including sculpture, photography, and video. He is broadly educated having studied sociology at Baker University where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, theology at the Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey; sculpture at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and sculpture at Boston University, where he earned his MFA. His sculptures, Big Ben at Franklin Town (co-created with Alexander L. Generalis) and The Sign Boy, are among the most viewed works of public art in Philadelphia. He works with both traditional and contemporary tools and technologies. He was an early adopter of 3D scanning and CNC machining for enlarging sculpture. Miles over the years was a sought after problem solver for his enlarging skills and work directly with such artist’s as Frank Stella, Jeff Koons, Larry Bell and architect John Portman. He has served on the boards of numerous arts organizations and institutions, including The University of the Arts, PGL, Philadelphia (Philadelphia Game Lab), AAI Avenue of the Arts, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, and White Box Theater.
I have loved the act of making art since I began drawing and sculpting as a child growing up in Oklahoma. The process of making things has always been as essential to me as breathing. Although I spent many years working more than full-time operating a number of engaging and challenging businesses, I never stopped sculpting and working with great intensity in my studio. Over my life and career, my primary focus has remained seeing the ordinary in new ways. I continue to engage in the prolonged observation of organic shapes—the human forms and objects found in nature, and I am interested in how patterns emerge as forms converge and in comparing the relationships between the scale of natural objects.
The reference point for my work is the human figure—the most fundamental of forms. Our scale, as human forms, determines our perspective on the world around us. My art explores that perspective: what is my relationship to what I am seeing and/or to what I remember (my mental snapshots)? How can I get inside the physical space and forms I inhabit? I touch, smash, and re-arrange the materials, objects, and images I work with and, above all, allow myself to be transformed by what I see, and then may see differently. My work is process driven. Feeling and emotion evolve into ideas, and ideas evolve into form. Along the way, there are moments of revelation and missteps, lucky observations and deliberate views that help me solve a problem and create something that is both planned and surprising, inevitable, yet somehow still unforeseen.
I have always found making form satisfying and fulfilling, yet often also challenging, unsettling, difficult and sometimes painful. These days, I find the drive to be engaged in my art is so strong, that I spend one hundred percent of my time in my studio. Recently the forms I create have become more intense, the basic philosophical and moral questions that interested me as student in the seminary and later in art school interest me still. My inspiration comes from everywhere and everything. I have simply loved the act of making it.
Images copyright © Thomas Miles
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