Audrey Miller's work A Run For Your Money is composed in her signature style.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Audrey Miller’s early encounter with art led her to design a fashion line at 11 years old, win art and photography contests, and have her art displayed in a local museum by 17. Born in Louisiana and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, her fascination with the art of Native Americans and then ancient civilisations, led her to discover Islamic Art. After a decade of running her own design firm in America and travelling to the Middle East, she moved to Syria in 2008 where she spent three years researching Ancient Ornamentation and Islamic Geometric design.
In Dubai since 2011, she continued her Interior Design career, becoming the Project Coordinator for the Private Office of the Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and then the regional Managing Director for design collective Eight Inc. A love of geometry, familiarity with contemporary American heritage and years of experience in the Middle East, has motivated Miller to create the ‘Always Ahead’ Collection to nurture the appreciation of the UAE through patterns; she calls her signature style Neopatternism. She has imprinted her designs onto carpets too.
You’ve probably prayed on one in the Emirates! Miller explores the blurring of lines between the physical and digital worlds. So, in addition to creating, she dedicates extensive time to researching artificial intelligence, the metaverse, and new technologies.
Gulf Today presents: Audrey Miller
How has Chattanooga influenced your art and how does Dubai do the same?
Chattanooga is an eclectic city, full of art, murals, sculptures, outdoor art, museums, and old architecture. Even the bridges and the railroads have unique angles that inspired me and I actually won awards for my art and bridge photography in high school.
Dubai is the perfect mix of the past and the future. It allows me to appreciate traditional Islamic Arts, while giving me the freedom to both create a modern variation of the geometric arts and pay homage to Islamic Art.
Can you define Neopatternism? What was the Old Patternism?
Old Patternism by definition does not actually exist. In the history of art, patterns have often been used as decorative elements in compositions, but rarely as the entire composition, with the exception of Islamic geometric patterns as art.
Neopatternism is my attempt at taking what my eyes and mind see and bringing them out into the world! I create geometries out of real-life objects and interpret those geometries in new ways into compositions. Neopatternism is my form of self-expression.Through it, I can express myself with my aesthetic while giving a nod to the traditional Islamic Geometric Arts.
What are the new features that Neopatternism brings to Islamic Art?
Geometry and patterns are tried and true elements in Islamic Arts and Neopatternism does not challenge that in any way.
The new feature it brings to the discipline of the Arts is my systematic methodology of looking at the world and turning it into elusive geometric compositions. People often confuse my art with a kaleidoscope. However, the difference between them is that kaleidoscopes are fractured images or fractured light that's completely randomised, whereas Neopatternism is completely intentional.
What made you create your “magic carpets”?
In 2012 I had the opportunity to work with a European carpet manufacturer with global distribution to create carpet designs for mosques and prayer spaces.
I wanted to go a completely different direction than the typical tired designs that are seen in mosques in cities big and small for the last 50 years. So I decided to rethink how colour and shape can enhance each individual prayer space. It could be considered one of my research phases of Neopatternism. And I believe that the 'Always Ahead' Collection is the next step to that in the birth of Neopatternism. A decade later, the carpet collection continues to do well.
Give us details of the 'Always Ahead' Collection.
‘Always Ahead’ uses my style of Neopatternism, where I have taken engineering marvels and national treasures, and turned them into elusive geometric compositions. My goal in creating Neopatternism is to patternise the world and I wanted to start with the UAE. So with ‘Always Ahead’, it's thinking about all that the UAE has done in only 51 young years, while I'm from the US, which is 250 years old, and there are things that we still have not yet been able to accomplish that the Emirates has already not only accomplished but rather excelled in.
(You can buy your piece from her limited edition collection today and receive it before the 51st National Day at www.alwaysahead.ae).
Where do you find your inspiration/s?
My brain is constantly trying to turn everything I see into patterns and thought-provoking compositions. I find inspiration everywhere. For example, the way that different colours react with each other in different environments. I find my inspiration from the vibe of a song, from a conversation with someone, or even from a news post.
I find inspiration from the way the light shines down from an angle onto architecture, the way palm leaves glisten, and sand dunes cast shadows of different colours. Most of all, I’m inspired by the challenge to rewrite old familiar artistic definitions with my own voice. I'm especially excited by the possibility of exploring non-traditional things that normally wouldn't be patternised such as buildings, automobiles, and of course, modern mosques!
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