In recent years, I’ve noticed an odd marriage (both metaphysical and substantive) between America’s Christian churches and American commerce. Structures originally designed and built as commercial buildings—retail, office, and industrial—are increasingly re-purposed and transformed into church sanctuaries. Additionally, existing church steeples may now be transformed into functioning cell towers, or sometimes, cell towers, fabricated in the form of a cross, are installed upon church grounds, often towering over an existing cross atop a building’s steeple.
Art Miller has been creating intelligent and insightful photographs for over thirty years. A keen observer of contemporary life, Miller’s meticulously crafted photographs reveal a ubiquitous landscape, clearly in view but easily overlooked.
In the series of photographs, Transformed, Miller shows us, in sunny, stark, minimal compositions, commercial architecture that has been retrofitted with a function, which at first glance, seems to fit like a bad suit. Former grocery stores and shopping malls are now churches complete with roomy parking lots. To complete the religious/commercial transformation, camouflaged cell phone towers often masquerade as steeples and bell towers. For the observer, the starkly beautiful images in Art Miller’s series, reveal a thought provoking American cultural phenomenon worthy of a second look and ongoing reflection.
Art Miller’s photographs are in the permanent collections of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR; Sprint Nextel Corporation World Headquarters, Overland Park, KS; American Century Investors Corporation, Kansas City, MO; The Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS; DST Corporation, Kansas City, MO, among others.