About the Exhibition:
In their exhibit “Random & Response” two artists who work in very different mediums collaborate to create pairings of images and words.
C.A. Millner, a calligrapher, responds with creative word play to images by Amy Ragus who works in a range of subject matter and materials.
Calligraphy is both precise and free and is combined with technical knowledge of materials. Millner, however, is inclined to prefer contemporary calligraphy. She defines “contemporary” as letter design where historic renderings are updated following classic aesthetic forms. These letters may be traditional or not.
Ragus is a collage artist who works with a variety of mediums, including photo collage, drawing, painting and printmaking. Over the years she has relied on intuition and chance occurrences to lead her to her final output. She provided Millner with 50+ images to choose from, suggesting that she pick whatever she liked and respond as she pleased, wanting the results to be spontaneous.
Millner notes that she relied on Ragus’ art for inspiration. Phrases were matched to each print or drawing. She then created a piece of calligraphy in response. She adds “There is no order in choosing a beginning of a piece. Sometimes color comes first, sometimes the style of lettering.”
For Ragus, dipping into different styles and approaches keeps her interested and allows for the unexpected. Although some of her large works are highly complex and planned, she also enjoys making simple combinations with found objects - shells, rocks, flowers, insects or feathers. The “random” in her work is what delights her and leads her to her subject matter.
For both, play is key.
Amy Ragus: Educated at Wellesley College (BA Studio Art) and Columbia University (MFA Painting) with a M.Ed (Framingham State U). Amy Ragus has worked in the arts as a business owner (Fine Arts Express, Inc.) and as a art professor (Regis College). In recent years she has worked full time as an artist.
She grew up in Manhattan and Westchester County and spent many weekends in Art Museums in New York City and vicinity. Her parents met at Cooper Union Art School and taught her to love art history and art making.
She has been exhibiting her work in one person and group shows since the 1980’s. She started working with photography as a tool to gather information for large complex architectural drawings, creating multi-frame collages to use as a references. To her surprise, galleries seemed to be interested in the photo collages, with her first showing of them at the Helen Shlien Gallery in Boston.
During extended residencies at the MacDowell Colony (Peterborough, NH 1988 & 1990) and SITKA Center for Art & Ecology (Otis Oregon 1991), Ragus turned to nature as a theme. Being alone in the woods was a new reality and she came back to Massachusetts looking for a place to photograph. By chance a news broadcast about saving Walden Woods from development sent her to Concord, Massachusetts to find the “holy grail” of earth and tree.
Over the years she has had many shows of her Walden work along with other landscape sites in New England. Some of the venues for these exhibits have included: The Fruitlands Museum, Danforth Arts, Thoreau Farm Trust, Tsongas Gallery at Walden Pond, Art Complex Museum, Cummings Arts Center (Ct College), Highfield Hall, Catamount Arts, and elsewhere.
Ragus has enjoyed artist residencies as a way to expand her subject matter. These include: The MacDowell Colony, The Virginia Center (VA and Moulin a Nef in France), Yosemite National Park, Gros Morne National Park (Newfoundland), Sitka Center (Oregon), Kalani Honua (Hawaii), Vermont Studio Center, The Hermitage (Florida) and others.
Currently she is working on a series of large waterfall images.
During the last forty years, C.A. Millner has embarked on a journey of studying, exhibiting and teaching. Primarily a student of Professor Howard T. Glasser at the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, she has carried the spark that he ignited in her for the love of letterforms.
Millner pursued a course of independent study, taking classes and workshops with internationally known artists. The venues ranged from Rochester Institute of Technology to group-run workshops in Belgium. She has continued with her studies locally. Most recently she has been making tiny books - and lots of them. These are miniature expressions of the book form.
Millner has exhibited her art in various group shows in Boston, including the DeCordova Museum and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. Her work has been shown in New York City, San Francisco, Australia, and Belgium. She recently served a two year term as Co-Chair of Exhibitions for Masscribes, a New England lettering arts association. With her Co-Chair she oversaw five exhibits from Woonsocket, RI to Newton, MA, executing flyers, receptions, installations, and text. A special projects was Millner’s curating and mounting an exhibition of work by Howard Glasser, held at UMass Dartmouth.
Millner’s work has been published in several collection books of calligraphy, including an anthology of Cheryl Wheeler’s songs titled “Nice Rendition: Sheryl Wheeler’s Lyrics in Calligraphy.”
Millner has been teaching for over 35 years, privately and at the Danforth Museum, The New School for Social Research, Middlesex Community College, and Tufts/The Museum School. A group of students has remained with her for seventeen years. Millner has also taught and juried for Scriptors, a Dutch/Belgian calligraphy group.
Millner enjoys giving gallery talks and has done so for several exhibits including Masscribes at Lasell College in Newton and other venues. She enthusiastically shares her knowledge and love for her art with others.