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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Artist sets wax statues in weird spots

    Julie Sasse, chief curator at Tucson Museum of Art, located on 140 N. Main Ave., talks about Judy Millers photography exhibit with her David Longwell. Millers photography features celebrity wax figures to create surreal photographs.
    Julie Sasse, chief curator at Tucson Museum of Art, located on 140 N. Main Ave., talks about Judy Miller’s photography exhibit with her David Longwell. Miller’s photography features celebrity wax figures to create surreal photographs.

    We see images of celebrities nearly everywhere we go. Not only are they in movies, TV shows and commercials, but photos of their everyday lives are the pride and joy of tabloids and magazines. Snapping shots of famous people isn’t anything new; in fact, the paparazzi have made it into a profession.

    But what about taking pictures of celebrities’ sculptures at a wax museum? It may seem strange, but it’s Judy Miller’s unique approach to the celebrity photo shoot. By combining images of wax sculptures with photographs of colorful landscapes, the Tucson artist has created a collection of artwork called “”Imaginary Dioramas.””

    These strange and fantastic images are currently featured at the Tucson Museum of Art. Meredith Hayes, the director of marketing at the museum, said that Miller “”worked for many years in the commercial realm, working in design and so forth. She branched out, taking her talents and creating these photo composites.””

    The “”Imaginary Dioramas”” exhibition is original and thought-provoking. Miller’s work pokes fun at popular culture, and also playfully references techniques in photography and art itself. For example, the piece “”Outtake #15: Dali,”” is a quirky compilation in the style of surrealist Salvador Dali. Likewise, the photo called “”Idols”” comically places Paris Hilton, Ozzy Osbourne, Woody Allen and other disparate celebs together in a grand dining hall. As a whole, works like these remind viewers of an irony in photography. Although the camera can capture detailed and realistic images, modern technology and editing can create vivid, lifelike pictures that aren’t real at all. This draws an interesting parallel to the wax sculptures themselves, which are completely artificial, yet resemble real celebrities to an uncanny degree.

    The way that Miller’s composites make a game out of posing celebrities suggests that popular culture itself portrays fame as a magical place all its own. Her pieces take that aspect of culture literally by transporting famous people into any place in the world. Similarly, works like “”Outtake #28: Queen to Night’s Bishop 3″” poses celebrities, including Brad Pitt and Meryl Streep, on a checkerboard floor like a game of chess. This composition can be seen as a reference to the game we’ve made out of watching and interpreting the actions of celebrities.

    In this way, Judy Miller’s work is more than just entertaining — it comments on the world we live in. As Hayes explains, the museum really enjoys hosting this exhibition. “”We love her work. We think it’s very unique and very fun,”” she said.

    This collection of artwork only runs until Jan. 30, so consider stopping by before it’s too late. The museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. The museum is closed on Mondays. Tickets are $3 for students.


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