Q&A with Laurie Miles

Laurie Miles, detail of a work from the Tectonic series, 16 x 16 inches, inked envelopes, tape, plastic, embossed Hahnemuhle-Copperplate, 2015.

Laurie Miles is an Associate Member of Kingston Gallery, and six works from her ongoing series of abstract compositions, Tectonics, is in their current group exhibition that closes on Sunday, August 30. With the ocean’s horizon and the forms of tidal marshes in mind, Miles works with simple materials such as used envelopes, masking tape and ink to create dynamic arrangements that speak to forces of tension and release. We talked about her artwork this week; here is our interview.

Laurie Miles, Tectonic series, 16 x 16 inches, inked envelopes, tape, plastic, embossed Hahnemuhle-Copperplate, 2015.
Laurie Miles, Tectonic series, 16 x 16 inches, inked envelopes, tape, plastic, embossed Hahnemuhle-Copperplate, 2015.

Shana Dumont Garr: The envelopes are the prints themselves, not the paper you use the mat, right? Do your print compositions come about in part because of the creases original to the envelopes?

Laurie Miles: The central image is a collage of masking tape and envelopes on sturdy plastic sheeting. The process began as a problem solving experiment for printmaking. The prints weren’t successful, but the “plates” were. It was an unexpected result I decided to pursue.

The process of making these compositions was fun and relaxing. I must have made at least 40 of them. What surprised me at one point is that I realized I was cutting and pasting….something I did at the beginning of my advertising career as a mechanical artist building camera ready ads. Ha!

Here's a 'before' of the central images.
‘Before’ of the central images.

SDG: Oh yeah! Nothing like blending something familiar to help you push new visual boundaries. The limited palette is lovely and calming, but I wonder whether you have you experimented with color in this series yet? Also, do the colors correspond to anything in nature, or more to your media and your imagination?

LM: I chose neutral colors. Yes I experimented with some color. I’m inspired by Richard Diebenkorn’s work….high color, geometric, graphic forms. At this point, color became distracting to the simplicity I was going for. If found myself editing often.

SDG: Tell me a bit about your embossing process.

LM: The white mat field makes use of my printing press. Blind embossing was created with cut pieces of plastic; the pieces were placed on the press bed precisely to correspond with the central image. So each element, the central image and the embossed paper were produced separately and then combined.

“After” of the same compositions.

SD: You seem to be making order with your works-at least, that is the tone that I receive as I look at them. What is your dominant mood (i.e. do you tend to be laid-back, energetic, introspective, etc.)? Do you think the work reflects your personality?

LM: Was I creating order? I prefer to call it resolve. I started with ideas of compression, tension, or conflict. The goal was to find a way out.

Laurie Miles is a mixed media artist, coming to fine art after a career in print advertising—an industry saturated in design. Her work accesses those aesthetics without the industry’s restrictions, thriving on inventiveness, using common materials from leaves to masking tape. She works closely with nature, both in and out of the studio, and has led several community art programs related to the environment, including papermaking from organics and outdoor earthen oven building. Miles received a BFA from the Massachusetts College of Art. She lives and works in Ipswich, Massachusetts. You can follow her on Instagram @milezart. 


  1. One of the hardest working, selfless, and inspirational artists I have known! Fantastic, thoughtful work! A true leader! Bravo, Laurie, and thanks for all you gave to our group and exhibition this year!

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