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Miles Huston (b. 1981) initiated his series of geometric compositions Verse Drawings while studying biophilic design at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. Biophilic design embraces natural environments and patterns and incorporates them into architectural design, focusing on the aspects of the natural world, which it has been discovered contribute to human health and productivity. Created by means of an intuitive line system, the Verse Drawings stem from Huston’s case studies that revealed the beneficiary effects of forms reflecting natural patterns on the physical and psychological well being of patients in hospitals or treatment facilities. Huston found that the rigid geometry of man-made design alienates individuals from nature. The studies revealed that patients in rehabilitation were more likely to heal faster if the windows in their rooms looked out onto a tree or sea of natural forms than the brick wall: fluidity over rigidity.
Huston’s process is informed by his study of Josef Albers’s color theory, expounded upon in Interaction of Color, as well as Johannes Itten's treatise The Elements of Color, Sol Lewitt’s instructed wall drawings, and Lygia Clark's folding Bichos sculptures. Considering the structures of form implemented in each of these practices, Huston begins a drawing by applying arched lines (1/4 or 1/2 of a circle) across the board using a protractor. Rather than mapping out the patterns in advance, Huston places each arc intuitively as he works around the canvas, varying the orientation of the protractor. He then applies a series of lines to the end points of the arcs in horizontal, vertical, or diagonal vectors. The lines grow organically and start to collide, forming myriad of different shapes – which Huston calls “tiles.”
Although the drawings appear to have geometric logic, none of the shapes are identical. This reversal of expectations challenges the viewer, as the mind instinctually seeks out similarities in geometric compositions, and instigates closer viewing.
Huston fills the tiles with blocks of vigorously applied color to form a sea of shapes which seem to be in constant flux. The colored areas play with the eye, expanding and contracting to create an illusion of space with variations in mass, proximity, and size that fluctuate in endless combinations. The drawings appear to flow off the page unrestricted into space. This push and pull between foreground and background empowers the viewer to see how these changes are enacted in different areas of the work. Huston feels these forms are cryptic, and they indeed require examination as the use of shape, line and color teases the eye and upends the seemingly ordered composition.
Huston uses only colored pencil, applied on paper or directly onto a wall. His works are not digitally rendered or assisted with any type of automation; the artist uses his own hand in real time to convey the expenditure of human effort.
Three of the compositions - Sol, Agnes, and Josef, named for Sol LeWitt, Agnes Martin, and Josef Albers – share the same proportions, system of lines and size of field, but their color systems vary entirely.
Miles Huston received his MFA from Yale University in 2010. He lives and works between Brooklyn, New York and Detroit, Michigan. Huston has exhibited in group shows in Boston, Los Angeles and New York City, most recently with Room East in New York. In Brooklyn, he co-founded the exhibition space KNOWMOREGAMES, which was open from 2011 until 2015. The artist has also designed a website that aggregates current, localized data including weather, tides, time, etc. The website (currentcondition.org) will remain publicly accessible ongoing. He is also a member of the Gryorgy Kepes Panel Committee in Wellesly Mass.