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The Is of Lis

Maine artist Martha Miller collaborates with her daughter Lisbeth to make colorful, larger-than-life, mixed media paintings.  Together, they tell the story of living with a traumatic brain injury.

November 13 - December 19, 2018

Exhibition events:

Gallery Talks/C.A.U.S.E. pot luck lunch:
Tuesday, December 11th, 11:30am-1:00pm:  "Figure It Out" a TV show incorporating a clothed figure drawing session and conversations with artists to be filmed in the pit.    
Monday, December 3rd, 11:30am-12:30pm:  Martha Miller, artist talk

Reception and Dinner/Symposium on Art and Mental Health, A CAUSE Empty Bowl Event in the Danforth Gallery:

Thursday, November 15th
Open reception 5:00-6:00pm
Sit-down Dinner 6:00-8:00pm  (Tickets required)

Tickets $20 and $10 with student IDTickets available at and click on the Danforth tab

During dinner there will be a conversational panel on the topic of Art and Mental Illness featuring the Portland Arts Writer Bob Keyes, Martha Miller, Amy Stacey Curtis, and members of the UMA Mental Health and Human Services community. This event is a CAUSE Empty Bowl Event where you will be served soup and salad and take home a beautiful bowl handmade by our students Amy Bley and Justin Knaus-Tucker. All proceeds will go to benefit NAMI Maine. 

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Artist Martha Miller from Woolwich, Maine, tells the story of her daughter, Lis, through colorful and unique multimedia paintings.  Lisbeth suffered a traumatic brain injury at age six and never recovered, experiencing uncontrolled seizures, severe behavioral disturbances, verbal and memory deficits, and anxiety.  Her life of love, hope, pain, desperation, anger, and beauty is depicted in Miller’s work. Miller paints pictures of her daughter at different stages – dreaming, coming out of a seizure, exploring – and incorporates the portraits with a wide variety of images, some of which are based on drawings produced by Lisbeth.


Lisbeth’s own creativity has remained strong throughout her life.  The artwork that she produces after having a seizure are her attempts to communicate her experiences in that moment, even though she is not able to remember producing the work when no longer in postictal state.  Miller brings these works into her own, thus collaborating with her daughter to produce the artwork.


“Lisbeth IS an artist,” Miller says, “and I believe that on a spiritual and psychic level, she and I are collaborating in this series, and that at that level she understands and has entrusted me to tell her story.  She is also teaching me new and powerful ways to make images. I am learning from her seizure drawings which are a direct line to the subconscious. The paintings have become both portrait and self-portrait.”


This exhibition marks the first time that this ambitious series has been shown.  The artwork literally excites and vibrate the gallery space with their awesome beauty and strength. UMA and the Danforth Gallery community are honored to bring this incredible display to light.

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Martha Miller has also created a catalogue for her current exhibit The Is of Lis.  Check it out here. 

You can visit Martha Miller's website here. 

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