#57: Adam Milner Part of a pack of bright young artists calling Denver home, Adam Milner is a visual documentarian with literary roots. A graduate of both journalism and art school at the University of Colorado, he won't be pinned down by any medium as he explores his own traversal through life in video, photographs, drawings and installations. True to his interest in blurring the boundaries between personal and public art spaces, Milner also offers what he calls Bedroom Residencies: open invitations to artists to produce work in his bedroom for week-long periods.
His work can be seen now in the Biennial exhibit First Draft at the McNichols Building. In September, Milner's introspective journey will arrive at Emmanuel Gallery in Wave so I know you're real, a solo exhibition serving as a multimedia journal made public. In advance of that, we asked him to answer our 100CC questionnaire; read on for his replies.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?
Adam Milner: This is tough question, but I think it would be incredible to work on a project with a writer I admire. The first who come to mind are Kathy Acker, Jorge Luis Borges or Jacques Derrida. They're so different from one another that maybe I could create a book with each of them. I'm sure Derrida and I would have some good fodder with our mutual preoccupations with the postcard.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I'm really interested in this stranger I had dinner with the other day who was obsessed with Singularitarianism. We talked for hours about technology and cyborgs and utopias and population growth and humans and alternate realities and artificial offspring and all of that. I'd like to collaborate on a project, but now my calls aren't being returned. Are you out there?
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I'd like to see cynicism take a break.
What's your day job?
I am a visual stylist for Neiman Marcus -- I do the mannequins and windows and such. It's an incredible opportunity and a lot of fun. Somedays I pretend I'm a young Robert Rauschenberg or something. And I like to paint and use paper mâché as much as I can, sort of pretending like I'm working in a different time. Working so much with mannequins, fashion catalogues and fresh floral has definitely started to influence new projects.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
I wouldn't want unlimited funds -- my practice really springs out of my life's circumstances, and I think it's the struggles and balancing act that keep things interesting. But I wouldn't say no to an assistant and a nice studio. I'd also probably have to start a small art press before I cut myself off from the funding -- a little publishing venture that would focus on artist books, catalogues for non-traditional spaces and critical texts.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
I think people should buy more art. Whether it's a $20 print from a student or an expensive piece from a gallery, buying art simultaneously supports the arts and enriches one's life. Collecting art has become one of my absolute greatest joys, as I occasionally trade with a friend or save up for a small work I've been admiring.
I will break the rules and say that the second thing I think would help the arts is fostering more of a discourse around the work being created in Colorado. I wish galleries produced more critical writing about the work they're showing (as opposed to fluffy promotion), and I wish more young aspiring art historians and critics started blogs and put out small publications in the same way that young artists produce house or warehouse exhibitions. There's a lot of incredible work being made in the area right now that warrants a greater conversation.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Colorado is fortunate to have so many amazing artists, curators and musicians doing things in the state, so at the risk of losing the rest of my friends, I'll take a leap and say Laura Shill is my favorite right now. Her work ethic, ideas, integrity and active role within the community are so admirable. If you haven't seen her installation at McNichols or her RedLine studio, they're definitely worth the visit.
What's on your agenda for the rest of 2013 and beyond?
Moving forward, I'm working hard on my solo exhibition at Emmanuel Gallery, Wave so I know you're real. It opens mid-September, and it's the most work I've ever shown in one exhibition. I'll be showing a lot of book works, videos, photographs and drawings that reference a relational uncertainty that comes with conflating my physical and digital relationships. The title is borrowed from a phenomenon I noticed while video chatting with strangers, where people often ask each other to perform a task to prove they are not a looped video or a robot. I'm fascinated that we live in a world where we have to prove we're human to the people we're interacting with.
I'm also moving places right now, so when I get settled again I look forward to picking my Bedroom Residency back up, which I shamelessly promote and ask any interested artists to apply.
Who do you think will get noticed in the Denver art scene this year?
I think a lot of great artists in the area will get more and more recognition this year: Liz Greene, Tom Mazzullo, Mike Bernhardt, Jazzmyn Barbosa, Taylor Barbosa, Lara Nickel and Whitney Stephens are some that quickly come to mind.
Visit Adam Milner's website for more information.
Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.
Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.
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