Millie Brown

by Amy Marie Slocum

Do not despair once you have entered the path of Light Attainment
Millie Brown first vomited for a crowd in 2005 on a stage in Berlin. Her “vomit art” has been discounted, not unlike another splatter artist, Jackson Pollock. It’s been said that she glamorizes bulimia and that her art was just the cashing in of an artist willing to go there. But Brown herself pays no heed to her detractors, she knows her work is pure art.

“I’m challenging societal standards of beauty and femininity rather than perpetuating them. I use my body in a powerful way to express myself and create art that truly comes from within.”

In the last ten years her work has expanded in scope—she was thrown into the world spotlight when she collaborated with Lady Gaga at SXSW last March, and last May she lay on a bed of decaying flowers for one week without eating or talking—but the precision remains the same.

“It’s the moments before I actually do the performance when I’m alone and I’m in this mental state in which the creativity comes to me when I’m actually doing the painting itself.”

Perhaps Millie Brown’s work will one day be worth as much as Jackson Pollock’s, but for now we have the luxury of an artist who is completely open about her process.

Can you talk a little about your upcoming show Rainbow Body?

The name itself comes from the Buddhist phenomenon; it’s the observation from a third person perspective witnessing another being gaining complete enlightenment, and in the process transforming into a spectrum of colors.

I created the paintings using my stomach, hands and body as a vessel to create art from the inside out. The process of their creating means that I fast before painting so that my stomach is clean of all food so that I can drink the paint and bring it back up on canvas as pure color. This fasting is essential to their creation but also a performance in itself, only it goes unobserved to the public. I find in these moments my mind can reach levels of creative enlightenment.

Does your work take more of a toll on your body or your mind? Which is more difficult?

My mind is never the same after each performance I do, but in a positive way. After my “Wilting Point” performance last May it took so long to adjust to being back in the outside world after enclosing myself on a bed of wilting flowers for 168 continuous hours in silence and without sustenance. I fall in love with the world. I feel as though it brings me back to a more raw state of being, makes me feel more connected and human.

You’ve come under criticism for glamorizing bulimia. What do you think your detractors don’t understand?

I don’t hide and purge in solitude, I open myself up in front of the world and leave a piece of myself on each canvas. But I welcome the debate, the more we discuss freedom of expression the more light we shed on these boundaries that must be broken.

Can you talk about how you stay healthy?

Everyday I climb a canyon to meditate at the top, overlooking the city below and across the sky; then I run down the mountain after making a wish. I feel like this keeps me healthy.

What do you hope viewers get back from your art?

I want them to feel something. Feel anything. Whether it’s love, hate, anger or peace. I want people to think and most importantly feel no matter what that emotion may be.

Millie Brown's solo show, Rainbow Body opens tomorrow for a special VIP reception at 8473 Melrose Place Los Angeles, through April 23rd.