Born in Dallas, Texas, Courtney Miles received a BFA from Texas Christian University in 2001 and a MA, in 2009, and a MFA, in 2010, from the University of Dallas. A former high school art teacher, Courtney “quit her day job” to pursue making art full time. She is currently the artist in residence at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas and will have an exhibition of work created during the residency in the Ross/Akard Gallery Saturday, June 30 6-10pm. Courtney is the gallery director at Mokah Art Gallery in Deep Ellum as well as the RED gallery. She teaches at the university level and serves on the executive board of Art Conspiracy. Courtney’s art studio is located in the Continental Gin Building.
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Age: I am not telling you
AHD: Who first introduced you to the world of creative expression, or did you happen upon it yourself?
CM: Growing up, I went to work with my Dad on occasion. He was the National Art Director for Dr. Pepper and then had his own graphic design company for years. This was when ads were created by hand. I was fascinated by the whole process... rulers, rub on transfer lettering, layouts on matte board, blue pencils...it was very precise and beautiful. I would tag along to photo shoots where models would hold products and smile. I was memorized. Art supplies were always around. I grew up drawing.
AHD: In April you were appointed to the Artist in Residence program at The Fairmont Dallas. What has the experience been like?
CM: Being the Artist in Residence at The Fairmont Dallas has been amazing. During my residency, I have had the opportunity to meet people from all over. Fairmont Dallas is the only hotel in the Arts District, so I am right next door to the DMA and Nasher. I walked across the street to the Dallas Arts Fair in April. The hotel was packed full of gallerists and patrons. I met Ernesto Neto in the elevator. It feels like I'm in the hub of Dallas art. Not to mention these three months, I have lived in a penthouse suite with a beautiful view of Dallas and worked in a large art studio on Level 0 just below the lobby. And the swimming pool! This experience has filtered into my artwork no doubt...probably will for years.
AHD: Following your three-month stint with The Fairmont Dallas, you’ll showcase your work in the Ross Akard Gallery in downtown Dallas. When does your show open and what can we expect to find?
CM: The work I created during my stay will be displayed in the Ross Akard Gallery June 30 through August 4. The reception is Saturday, June 30 from 7 PM to 10 PM. All I will say is this work is bigger and more flamboyant than my past work. Larger than life size paintings, large drawings, installation, neon, and a gift shop.
AHD: What influenced the themes for “Courtney is Here”, your recent self-described exploration of identity and behavior, and your upcoming work?
CM: All of my work is images of myself. I have created over 125 in the past three years. They are actually not an accurate description of me, but me through the lens of celebrity. It's all very self-absorbed. It's amusing to see how people react to it. I will probably continue to work this way for a bit. It's all I see. I mean unless our society moves on from this…
AHD: Throughout the course of your creative career you’ve studied, taught, created and curated art. Among the four, do you have a favorite?
CM: I feel that the four are all one. I am always studying, teaching, creating and curating. I guess creating is the biggest for me. If I were not making art, I wouldn't try to teach it. Or maybe studying is the biggest because I continue to learn. It's a never-ending expanse of knowledge out there...you can never be done.
AHD: Your bio includes some work with Mokah Art Gallery in Dallas’s Deep Ellum. Why is it so natural for practicing artists to transition into curatorial duties? Has the task been a good fit for you?
CM: I never wanted to curate. I do not really consider myself in the curatorial world. Artist-run galleries are more finding artist friends and giving them walls to put their work on. However, I do love to help artists at the very beginning of their careers. I like to spout out everything I learned in Grad School to them as we plan their first solo exhibitions. Ha ha...I'm sure they all enjoy that thoroughly.
I have run Mokah Art gallery for five years. I have made great friends. Planning and putting up solo exhibitions it’s a big thing in an artist career. I love that I am able to experience that alongside each artist.
AHD: You’ve said your proudest visual arts accomplishment is that you haven’t quit. Do you feel like the odds sometimes are against creatives when they set out to make something new?
CM: This industry can be hard. It's expensive. There are more "artists" now than there ever have been. I try to not be discouraged. I just continue to make my own art and try to get the word out. Sometimes you help others, a lot of the time you have to just focus on your own work. So many love the act of being an artist, but don't create the work.
AHD: What does the ideal day/night in Dallas look like for you?
CM: Spend time in my studio all day and then meet friends at art openings at night…perfect day. Window shopping museum gift shops and maybe stopping by Neiman Marcus.