Credit: Coco Picard

In a new exhibition, longtime collaborators Dutes Miller and Stan Shellabarger created an immersive multimedia installation that explores intimacy, distance, and the fluctuations between. The above comic captures their reflections on making together and materials in play. Text from the comic is transcribed here to ease readability.

Our collaboration developed organically. We were both ceramic students at Illinois State University but did not collaborate (or date) at the time. We worked cooperatively as many craftspeople do, sharing tasks like making clay and firing kilns. We are both from large families where cooperation is necessary. 

A few years later, we started living together and working on collaborative performance pieces. Those performances grew out of a shared interest in performance and each other. 

The silhouette is very present in “Loving Repeating.” The silhouette is made from tracing a shadow. A shadow is a reminder that a body is present and a silhouette is a reminder that a body is gone. What is missing causes loneliness. In “Loving Repeating,” there is a large painted mural of our silhouette repeated many times to form a pattern. That pattern is then pushed into a forced perspective, creating an illusion of the mural receding into space. Some may see a hint to the infinite in this receding in space. 

“Loving Repeating: New Work by Miller & Shellabarger”
Through 9/3: Mon-Thu 10 AM-7 PM, Fri 10 AM-4:30 PM, Sat 10 AM-4 PM, Sun 10 AM-1:30 PM, Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell, 773-324-5520,

The name of the exhibition comes from a Gertrude Stein novel, The Making of the Americans. She talks about history being made by the repetition of the everyday over generations and that is a type of infinity. She also suggests that love is tied to loving the way that another [person] is repeating. These ideas of togetherness and separation run throughout most of our collaborative efforts.

We’ve done two other similar shows like the one at the Hyde Park Art Center. The ashes of both are included in [“Loving Repeating”] in their pine box urns. Like those shows, all the work—excluding the murals—are made of paper and after the show ends will be burnt and placed in a pine box urn.

We talk about our collaborative work all the time and everywhere: at breakfast, on walks . . . We have art dates where we hash out details about this and that. We’ve been working collaboratively for almost 30 years, so it comes easily—but it really always has. We’ve also had very separate solo art practices since the very beginning.

Don’t force your collaboration. If you give your work time and attention it will grow.

Miller & Shellabarger’s artist page at Western Exhibitions