For Visual and Critical Studies alumna Susan Miller, who just received her degree in 2012, the final semester of graduate school proved to be a series of both great challenges and great successes. Simultaneously, she researched and wrote her thesis while co-curating a major exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California, Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes, an effort that had been decades in the making.
Before she ever arrived at CCA for graduate school, Miller had already built a long curatorial career distinguished by hard and impassioned work and the desire to give artists a platform to be heard. "I was drawn to the Bay Area's vibrant community of artist-run spaces," she explains of her 1986 move to San Francisco. She left the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, where she was the promotions director, to be a part of San Francisco's collectivist and grassroots contemporary art scene. From 1988 to 1992 she served as the program director of Capp Street Project (which later became affiliated with CCA's Wattis Institute) before moving to New Langton Arts in San Francisco, which she headed from 1993 to 2005.
At Capp Street Project, Miller produced exhibitions and installations of work by Mowry Baden, Shu Lea Cheang, Mel Chin, and Ursula von Rydingsvard, among many others. After moving to New Langton Arts, she focused the programming on important local artists who had yet to receive the critical writings and public exposure she felt they deserved. Some of her "profile" exhibitions there surveyed the work of the local artists Jim Pomeroy, Tony Labat, and Jeanne Finley (now a CCA faculty member).