Who: Danae Bennett-Miller is a bronze sculptor and printmaker. In early April, her three-antelope-and-an-elk sculpture “A Journey Through a Land of Contrasts” was installed in the roundabout at the intersection of Highway 20, Barclay Drive and McKinney Butte Road in Sisters. You can find Bennett-Miller’s public art in Bend, too: “Bueno Homage to the Buckaroo” resides in the roundabout at Newport Avenue and Ninth Street, and she has another sculpture at Minnesota Avenue and Lava Road in downtown Bend. Bennett-Miller is a member of the artist collective Tumalo Art Co., where her prints and sculptures, often depicting or influenced by the wildlife around her home in Tumalo, will be featured during August. That same month, she’ll have a booth at Art in the High Desert (Aug. 23 to 25), an annual, juried show boasting artists from across the country. Finally, a tip if you run into her at either show: Bennett-Miller’s first name is pronounced “da-Nye.”
Q: Congratulations on your new roundabout piece. How did you come up with the idea for that?
A: Well, the proposal that I made was reflective of what ODOT and the Forest Service were asking for. The first thought was Sisters is the gateway to Central Oregon, and thinking about that theme, I wanted to honor what’s beautiful about Oregon and surprising in that we are a very beautiful state with many contrasting ecosystems and environments. But when you’re coming through Sisters to Eastern Oregon, it’s a beautiful transition. So I was trying to really honor the fact that we have that quality in Central Oregon.
Q: Nice. I know you have public art in Bend, too. Is it pretty fun to give people directions and say, “Take the second exit by my antelope?”
A: (Laughs) I’ve never done that! That’s a good thought.
Q: Get a little plug for your work in there.
A: Yeah, easier than trying to read a sign or something. I have been lucky and feel honored that I have had the opportunity to do different pieces, and this last one was really special.
Q: Can you tell me about your process with wax casting?
A: Each sculpture is created entirely of wax. Traditionally, most sculptors work in clay first, and then in the bronze casting process, they have to create a wax. I’ve always enjoyed working with wax as my sculpting material. I’ve been working this way for over 30 years and have developed a way of creating textures on my sculptures, which hopefully translate into some kind of movement or actions in the animal too. So I’m trying to bring life to the flat surfaces of my work. Also, pouring sheets of wax, I’m able to use wax in a sheet and shape it, also being able to create negative space. So my work is extremely recognizable because, well, I don’t know of many people that work in my methods. You have to have so much patience because wax is really fragile. You have to have so much patience because wax is really fragile. After the entire sculpture is created, I disassemble it and then put it in coolers to maintain the temperature and then hand-deliver them to the foundry, so that it stays in shape and doesn’t scatter. And there are hundreds of pieces. Each piece is cast individually, and then taken out of the mold, cleaned and welded back together. It’s a long, long process.
Q: Wow. It sounds pretty laborious, but you get such good results. Have you always been a printmaker, too?
A: I have probably been working, seriously, on the printmaking for 12 years or so. In undergraduate school I did more painting and drawing, but I started doing some printmaking here in Bend. It’s a different process, and not as lengthy a process, so it gives you some relief.
— David Jasper, The Bulletin