“This town is strange without you.” “I keep thinking our paths will cross again.” “I smile every time I think of you.”
Those are the opening lines from a handful of anonymous letters—letters artist Kim Miller asked people to write—which then became the focal point of her latest exhibit, Analog/Dialogue (analogdialogueartshow.wordpress.com) up at Winchester Cultural Center through October 6. Each collage hanging inside the center contains a piece of text from a letter someone has been meaning to send to someone else. The results are eye-catching and purposeful—geometric watercolors juxtaposed against cut photographs that evoke a sense of longing and urgency.
“Honestly, I was really surprised at how quickly people responded with very sensitive thoughts,” Miller says. “That surprised me, because in some ways we think we’re alone in that we have unfinished business, but it made me realize all of us have these ongoing conversations in our head that we haven’t figured out how to have in person yet.”
The 35-year-old Miller has been making art and collage for more than a decade. A Las Vegas Academy graduate, Miller studied technical theater in high school and went to college for theater management before landing gigs in various cities directing, producing and working as a scenic artist. Throughout that time, she continued making collage art for theaters and for friends. “It’s always been something that I enjoyed doing,” she says.
But a few years ago, Miller was living a very different life—“I was working for a big theater in Chicago,” which she calls her then-dream job—when she suddenly got laid off. “I realized, I’m either going to have the biggest bender of my life or I’m going to suck it up and figure out what to do and basically just build from the ground up,” she says.
Miller chose the latter, moving back to Las Vegas with her husband and subsequently ending her relationship with alcohol. But starting over and making such a drastic change wasn’t easy. “I’d been gone for a long time,” Miller says. “I didn’t know anybody anymore. I wasn’t drinking, and it was super hard to make adult connections without working in theater. I really didn’t know how to make friends as an adult.”
That led her to launch another project, Sober in Vegas (soberinvegas.com). “Most of us do go through times in our lives where we’re taking breaks from drinking—we’re on a diet or we’re sick or we’re pregnant or [people are] here for work, and they need to have their game face on and don’t want to be drunk,” she says.
In addition to working a full-time job, being a mom to a 9-month old, writing as a freelancer and pursuing her art, Miller runs the Sober in Vegas blog and Instagram account to keep herself accountable and to foster a sense of community. “I have such a deep love for this city; it’s important to me to showcase Las Vegas to other places and get the word out,” Miller says. “If you’re looking to come to Las Vegas but drinking isn’t your thing, there are so many options for you.”