Artomatic Takes Flight Artist Interview: Sam Miller

"Catacombs"  by Sam Miller, now showing at Artomatic Takes Flight at Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C.

“Catacombs” by Sam Miller, now showing at Artomatic Takes Flight at Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C.

Painting since he was 10, Sam continues to make art because he has “a compulsion to make things” but has only recently started to put his work out in public and to join other artists when creating his art.

Recently several dozen of his pieces have been displayed in juried shows at the Torpedo Factory and also at Alexandria’s City Hall, with about 30% receiving acknowledgement through awards.  Sam even has one of his pieces displayed in the White House Oval Office.

All of this keeps Sam creating although “There is little monetary incentive – my pieces are expensive and rarely sell.”

“Catacombs” is the name of his work  currently showing at Artomatic Takes Flight.  In “Catacombs” the cars are shaped and painted to resemble skulls stacked in much the same way that wrecked cars are stacked in junkyards. He continues this theme with the other work pictured here, “Junkyard Drifts” and “Dusk ’til Dawn” – similar in that they use castings of old junked cars.

Sam has a background in optics and a degree in physics and says that there is a technical component to creating these car boxes. Although he

"Junkyard Drifts" by Sam Miller

“Junkyard Drifts” by Sam Miller

thinks of these boxes primarily as sculpture, “the choice of materials and casting techniques are important, as are the motion-controlled lighting systems I sometimes use.”  He typically finishes the boxes with Golden or Liquitex acrylic paint because “these and other water based materials are well adapted to build up many successive layers.”

The Car boxes “have aspects that depend on viewing angle and distance.  This ensures a kind of authenticity and uniqueness of the original.  Like modern U.S. currency, the original cannot be counterfeited, and good copies will never appear on the internet.”

The boxes with lighting (like “Dusk ’til Dawn”) are theatrically inspired by Sam’s work in theater set and lighting design.  “These boxes explore ensembles in social settings such as bars and hotels, and, of course, junkyards.” Sam continues:  “In some respects the boxes are three-dimensional framed pictures inviting the viewer to observe the scene.  All three pieces have a certain moodiness to them, but also a feeling of tranquility and repose.  The races have been run for these cars, whatever the outcome, and the movie has long been over.”

Sam says that some of his favorite work emerges from random or abstract ‘seeds.’  Faces emerge from foliage; street scenes emerge from slush on a car windshield.

The Car boxes were last exhibited along with some architectural light boxes in Sam’s solo show called “Night Windows” at the Fisher Gallery at NOVA Alexandria in 2012.  A sampling of other types of his visual arts is found at his website:

"Dusk 'til Dawn" by Sam Miller

“Dusk ’til Dawn” by Sam Miller

Current projects include pencil drawings of fellow artists as they themselves paint and draw a model, morphed cathedrals made of polymer clay, and polymer ink street scenes in the rain and snow.

Sam’s artist community centers around the Art League School in Alexandria where he takes classes and practices in open model sessions.  He says he finds the give and take with instructors and other students quite valuable for his art journey.

In addition to his website (above) you can contact Sam by cell: 703-346-4342 and by email:


Artomatic Takes Flight is open at Reagan National Airport through the end of January.  If you have a piece in this show and are interested in being interviewed, contact Tammy Vitale: