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MILLER & SHELLABARGER | Bio | Artist Resume | Artwork | Performances | WX shows: 2010 | 2007

Large Tintypes 2
tintype photographs
9 x 7.25 inches

Dutes Miller b. 1965, Pennsylvania
Stan Shellabarger b. 1968, Illinois
Live and work in Chicago, IL

Husband and husband artist team Miller & Shellabarger’s performances, sculptures, collages and artist books document the rhythms of human relationships. Their performance work, always enacted together in public, focuses on simple materials and actions pushed to almost Sisyphean extremes. Their gestures shift between moments of togetherness and separation, between spaces of private and public, protection and pain, and visibility and invisibility. They strive to make work that functions in a space that is both autobiographical and metaphorical, and speaks to the common experience of human interaction as well as the specific experiences of queer relationships.

In their most well-known performance, Untitled (Crochet), the artists simultaneously crochet the ends of a long pink tube, a metaphorically loaded (penis, umbilical cord, etc.) object that both unites and separates them. In "Untitled (Grave)", Miller & Shellabarger dig, in close proximity to each other, two holes, deep and large enough for each man to lie in. They then dug a small tunnel between the holes that enabled them to hold hands while lying in the graves.

The silhouette is a key component of their works. Miller & Shellabarger first employed silhouettes in Silhouette Books, a multi-volume set of large-scale artist books that contained their individual profiles, each one cut by the other. Miller & Shellabarger modernize the folk art tradition of cut-paper silhouettes by combining the sentimental, documentary, and psychological ambiguities engendered by odd alterations made to the images. In their (Conjoined) silhouette collages they tie their beards together and have their friends trace the resulting silhouette. Larger-than-life, phantasmagorical silhouettes were created during an artist residency at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Sullivan Galleries in 2010. These images take advantage of the distortions of the silhouetted figure in light and shadow. Life-size body tracings of each other are realized in large drawings on paper made with gunpowder, and in a repeated performance where they trace each other’s body with seeds, leaving them to disperse into the natural world. These “Seed Drawings” were collected in a small book of photographs.

Like the Conjoined series, their three-dimensional works reference their enigmatic beards -- a twin set of pillowcases, each monogrammed with their initials using hair from their beards as thread; delicate cameos depicting the two with their beards intertwined, carved out of sardonic shell by an Italian master carver, and a set of three handkerchief that also are embroidered with their respective beard hairs.

Their artist books series Butter Books is an ongoing project, for which they collected, cleaned and bound every wax paper butter wrapper from each stick of butter they consume in a year (Miller is an accomplished pastry chef) into books. Each book’s pages are intended both attract and repel the viewer.

Miller & Shellabarger have had solo shows at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Chicago Cultural Center, INOVA in Milwaukee, the University Galleries at Illinois State University and Gallery Diet in Miami. Their work has been included in group shows at the Bellevue Art Museum in Washington, Diverseworks in Houston, Sala Diaz in San Antonio, the Institute for Contemporary Art in Portland, ME and their performances have been presented at the Time-Based Arts festival in Portland, Oregon; Hub 14 in Toronto; Cornell Art Museum in Florida; the Hyde Park Art Center and the 44/46 Performance Festival in Chicago; the Suburban in Oak Park, Illinois, the Ulrich Museum of Art in Wichita and the Illinois State University Galleries. Miller & Shellabarger are a 2008 recipient of an Artadia Chicago award and a 2007 recipient of a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation award. Their work in is the collections of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, the Newark Public Library, Indiana University Art Museum and the National Gallery of Canada. Their Their work has been written about in Artforum.com, Art & Auction, Frieze, Artnet, The Art Newspaper, Flash Art, Chicago Tribune, and the Chicago Sun-Times. Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger also maintain separate artistic practices. They live and work in Chicago.