Florence Miller PIERCE US, 1918-2007


"My works are contemplative. They’re about stilling the mind."


- Florence Miller Pierce

Florence Pierce was a New Mexico-based abstract artist, where she was a staple of the local and national art worlds for nearly 30 years. Pierce created her richly nuanced, monochromatic pieces by layering resin and rich pigments onto mirrored Plexiglas to create what some have called a “living embodiment of light.”


Pierce was born in Washington, DC in 1918. At age 18, she traveled to Taos, New Mexico, to stay with her grandparents and study with noted artist Emil Bisttram. Pierce returned to Taos two years later and joined the Transcendental Painting Group, a collective of spiritual conceptual artists interested in stretching the boundaries of two-dimensional art. Miller was one of only two women (along with Agnes Pelton) to belong to the group and, at only 19, she was certainly the youngest member.


Although Miller and her husband only attended two meetings of the Transcendental Painting Group there are elements of the group’s philosophy that remain apparent in her mature work. The definition of Transcendental as “beyond common thought or experience” suggests an exploration of new forms and new visions. Light was very important in transcendental painting as a vehicle for expressing color, form, and rhythm. Light would become fundamental to Miller’s work, particularly in her resin reliefs.


She was not an artist who did a lot of interacting with other artists as she worked pretty much in isolation and viewed herself as a ‘silent artist’. Perhaps this reflects her dedication to Zen Buddhism and meditation, practices which she developed as a young woman. She became a strong admirer of Agnes Martin, the reclusive painter from Taos who was her peer and whose minimalist paintings brought record-breaking prices in New York auction houses.  In 2004, Pierce, Martin and the potter, Maria Martinez, were honored in a group show, In Pursuit of Perfection, in Santa Fe at the Museum of Fine Arts.


Her work is also part of several permanent collections including the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, the Albuquerque Museum, and the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu. Pierce died in Albuquerque in 2007.