Final Friday Jan. 25 at Newman University Steckline Gallery features sculptures by Mike Miller

The Newman University Steckline Gallery will present "Tintinnabulation" by artist Mike Miller as the fifth show of its 2012-2013 season. The exhibit of sculptures, which begins with a Final Friday reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 25, will be on display through Feb. 15. Both the reception and admission to the gallery are free and open to the public.

An "Art for Lunch" presentation by Miller will be held Tuesday, Jan. 29 from noon to 1 p.m. in the gallery. A light lunch will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. Guests can also bring their lunch. This event is also free and reservations are not required.

Miller was born in Lawrence, Kan., and grew up in Wichita, where he spent a good deal of his childhood building a tree house that had 33 floors and filled nine elm trees connected with boardwalks. Miller worked at a small John Deere dealership owned by his family called Suburban Equipment for 28 years. He sold the business in 2007, and returned to Wichita State University to complete his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Arts with an emphasis in sculpture. He will graduate in May 2013. In June 2012, he married Meghan Miller, who he calls an "online business mogul and a brilliant artist."

Miller said discovering a new material often initiates a sculpture, and that the idea of what the work is about comes after the piece is three-quarters built. Several 100-foot spools of gold anodized speedometer cable inspired Miller's current series of sculptures. All are "machine-nature interfaces" that bring together whirling rocks, spinning hedge apples, and belts and pulleys designed to make a flower grow with speedometer cable powering it all. Miller said these interfaces pay homage to machines, "the tiniest and most massive that belong to the natural world plus humankind's human-sized inventions, all part of the omni-machine of the universe."

Miller said of his exhibit that, "Everything is a machine. A poem is a human-constructed machine that conveys emotional information. A living flower cell exposed by the exquisite precision of a microscope is a machine. I want to show that there does not need to be conflict between human-made and nature-made machines."

Miller added that, "The act of imagining something that has never existed and then causing it to be constructed is my definition of art. All human-built machines at their inception are art. Human built machines cause problems, but by solving those problems humans learn to control their own evolution. Machines that fix problems will inevitably create new problems, but that's okay; that's how evolution works. Sculpture is a machine that converts an idea into an object."

The Steckline Gallery is located inside the De Mattias Fine Arts Center on the Newman campus, 3100 McCormick. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., or by appointment. For more information, call 316-942-4291, ext. 2199.

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