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By Fr. Johann Roten, S.M.

In 1923 Benjamin Miller began to experiment with black and white color schemes. One of the early works in this new style were the fifty-six silhouettes he created in 1924 for the Duveneck Society in Cincinnati. Three works on display in our exhibit are part of the Duveneck series: The Annunciation, St. Francis and the Birds, and Samson Destroying the Temple.

Silhouettes are identified with the beginning of art. They are mentioned already in Pliny's Natural History. From the paintings of Greek vases to the depiction of portraits in the 18th century, the silhouette drawing appears as one of the most popular means of combining linear accuracy and the graphic rendering of solid volumes. In the United States, silhouettes were highly popular between 1790 and 1840.

Miller's silhouettes — for him only a first step to the woodcut prints — are of fascinating beauty. They combine force and grace. They celebrate the intricate beauty of a flower or the silent hovering of a dove. There is movement waiting to explode, and story captured for eternity. Both hiding and revealing, the silhouette is promise never kept, but always open to creative imagination. And so the Annunciation becomes an event frozen in time, but alive in the present. St. Francis and the Birds is a gentle reminder that miracles are never far, and Samson a telling witness that raw force should be guided by a generous heart.


The Prints of Benjamin Miller
May 1–July 27, 2018

Marian Library Gallery, 7th floor of Roesch Library
Open Mon.–Fri., 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. 

For special arrangements, please call 937-229-4214.

Complimentary visitor parking passes can be obtained at the visitor parking information center

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