MAM is thrilled to welcome Miles back to Missoula with a one-woman exhibition of new paintings. Over her 20-plus years in Montana, she earned a reputation as a talented and prolific painter with her introspective, symbol-laden imagery. Light and Shadow represents a break from the previous content-driven narratives, focusing instead on painting for painting’s sake. Miles turned to buildings as subject matter for her non-objective paintings. A house may seem like a mundane muse, but these structures have offered Miles an entry point to investigate the fundamental conventions of painting.
Throughout the exhibition, Miles’s deep knowledge and understanding of painting is fully evident. Her compositions are strong, comfortable, and easy to take in. The pictorial space is defined by shapes and color. Miles forgoes the use of values to create the illusion of depth; rather, she paints adjacent shapes with high-contrast colors. She captures light filtering through the trees and throws shadows across a fence and onto the ground, creating form and providing an illusion of depth. Other times she renders melting snow with bold brown and grey shapes on white, which defies illusion and narrative by emphasizing the picture plane and flattening the fore- and middle ground. Although the paintings are centered on a subject, they are fluent formal abstractions to Miles, who says, “Some people might think the paintings are about buildings or a landscape, but they are just space, color, and edge. Stillness, contrast, hot and cold—they are about my way of seeing.”