Jim Miller Biography


Ecole de la Chaumiere Paris 1951

Cranbrook Academy of Art 1954

           Play Sculpture Model 1970


Birthplace: Minneapolis, Minnesota - 1/25/29

My grandfather, Claus Melberg, Immigrated from Sweden in 1880.  He changed his name to Miller.  I use the hyphenated name for sculpture to honor my ancestors and to distinguish myself from the ubiquity of the name Jim Miller.

My father was a skilled pattern maker and established a small wood pattern shop in Detroit in 1932.  He made wood and metal patterns for casting in various metals for the many foundries that once existed in the Detroit area.  I worked in the shop during my high school years as an apprentice and eventually became a journeyman pattern maker.  I acquired skills that became invaluable in making cast metal sculptures and designing and building the complicated mold systems for the precast concrete sculptures of my design.

Another prominent period in my education as a sculptor was independent study in England and France in the early fifties.  I visited the great cathedrals, museums, and was in Florence for a brief period.  In England, I visited the studios of Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and the pottery shop of Bernard Leach.  The meeting and a long conversation with Leach, a philosopher and important ceramist of the time, was the most inspiring of these visits.  I spent some time at the Ecole de la Grande Chaumier in Paris where I met Ossip Zadkine.  He was instrumental in arranging for me to live and work in the sculpture studio at the academy during the summer months when it was closed.

We, who seriously immerse ourselves on a hazardous journey in the Arts, like to consider ourselves as artists in the tradition of distinguished heroic figures of the past.  As a sculptor  I think that all enduring forms of sculpture derive their validity, for the most part, from standards established by tradition.  By tradition I mean tradition going back to the Venus of Willendorf, carved some 20,000 years ago, to the sculptures of Rodin, Brancusi, Giacometti, Moore and others of the early 20th century.  Those recent sculptors developed their skills and distinctive styles from many sources: their contemporaries certainly, but also from various traditions, recent and ancient, classic and primitive.

I have exhibited my sculptures in many venues and many are in private collections.  The most recent exhibition was a comprehensive retrospective of my work from 1946 to 2009 at the “CROOKED TREE ARTS CENTER” in Petoskey, Michigan.  My play sculptures and site amenities, some designed sixty years ago, are all over the country and overseas.  Many are still being manufactured.

You can see all of Jim Miller-Melberg's work at this website.