A. B. Miner
Miner’s paintings and drawings often reveal or “bring to light” things that are usually hidden from public view. Some works continue a dialogue with self-portraiture/the gendered body, while two series evolved from his research in natural history museum collections.

The paintings and drawings are self-referential; intimate in scale and content, these self-portraits are conceptually and emotionally charged, exposing vulnerability by revealing what he (and many people) hide from the outside world – inner turmoil and body irregularities. Miner confronts viewers with a simultaneously grotesque and beautiful homage to the human body’s potential for transformation, adaptation, and resilience. Miner’s adept use of oil paint creates luscious surfaces, highlighting the alchemical nature of flesh. In some works he takes a macro view, in others, subjects are situated in a sea of white space evoking the feeling of being psychologically lost or separated from the subject by time, the haze of failing memory or secrecy. The resulting images may be at once familiar and foreign, surrounded by piercing silence.

Miner’s frustration with contemporary Western society’s binary views of gender based on “average” male and “average” female bodies led him to research how masculinity manifests in other species. Before his move to Boston, Miner discovered and photographed an undocumented, offsite collection of the National Museum of Natural History, simply labeled: “Smithsonian Institution Penis Collection.” Here he found single examples of numerous species of mammals whose diverse, abstract shapes would inspire complex and intricate works on paper. That project led him to research the genitalia of male butterflies working closely with Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology, where author Vladimir Nabakov served as the Museum’s first curator of Lepidoptera and closely compared butterfly genitals. Miner selected 50 related butterflies representing species Nabokov studied and had them dissected as the genitalia is only visible through this process. These tiny specimens, photographed under the microscope, reveal a diverse array of forms providing a wide range of physical manifestations of masculinity, which Miner explores with watercolor and gouache on paper.