Kris Miller-Siple elevates everyday ordinary objects into fine art, portraying them (and their shadows) in exquisite, realistic detail. A childhood eye injury led Kris to look at things much more keenly — something that became a defining aspect of her work. Her paintings are on exhibit in the children’s wing through May 3, along with works by her cousin, Pam Albert.
Recently, we asked Kris to tell us more about her background and evolution as an artist…
When did you know you were an artist? Tell us a little about your early path and what drew you to art.
Growing up in an artistic family definitely directed me into the art world. My mom and dad had a wonderful artistic flair in our home decor and also the fashions of the day. I was so fortunate to visit NYC from a young age and be exposed to all the visual beauty it has to offer.
As a child, I loved making things and giving them as gifts to friends and family. When I was in the fourth grade, I had an eye injury that left me in the hospital for a month and temporarily blind in one eye. After regaining my vision and the addition of glasses, I can remember coming home to the chartreuse green color of the blossoming leaves on the tree-lined streets where I lived. I always think this accident gave me the gift of really looking and studying the world around me. My teachers also gave me the opportunity of doing murals and art projects from first grade until my high-school graduation.
When and why did you decide to pursue art as a career?
My high-school art teacher paved the way for me to pursue art at Kutztown University, where I received my BS in Art Education. After graduating from college, I had the honor and privilege of teaching art at all levels. All my life, I experimented with two-dimensional and three-dimensional art forms and numerous media before discovering the beauty and luminescence of oil painting while studying with Bruce Becker at the Warehouse Studio in Reading.
Tell us about the current focus of your work.
Common and whimsical readymade objects from sentimental experiences are the primary focus of my oil paintings. I begin the process by taking photographs of the objects, strategically positioning them until the exact composition is achieved. The photograph of the object is then drawn on canvas and comes to life in oils. These readymade objects take on their own persona standing alone in space having a conversation with their shadow. Emphasis on the play of light and color in the shadow is a metaphor for looking back in time. My shadow play paintings are meant to inspire and reawaken pleasant memories in the viewer.
Did the pandemic have an impact on your work?
During the pandemic, my productivity did suffer. Even though I was vaccinated, I unfortunately came down with Covid and it has taken me quite a while to feel myself again.
What’s been your biggest challenge?
My biggest art challenge is being productive and disciplining myself to work on my art. I am slowly getting back into my groove and painting again, although I think every artist does art in his or her own mind’s eye every day!
What successes or achievements are you most proud of?
Even though I have won many awards and prizes for my art, my greatest achievement in the art world was being able to explore the main art medias with my students and friends. Being a part of watching someone blossom and enjoy doing art in any form is a true blessing. I am a firm believer that everyone has artistic talent.
[You can learn more about Kristine Miller-Siple and view more of her work at her website.]
ART@EPL is the library’s exciting partnership with the Lehigh Art Alliance and the Lehigh Valley Arts Council. The series is funded through a grant from PA Partners in the Arts, making it possible for area residents to enjoy free art lectures and workshops from local artists working in pastels, charcoal, sculpture, and watercolor among others.
Visit the ART@EPL page to see all the artists who have led workshops and exhibited work at the library as part of ART@EPL.