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Arts of North America

Art created in North America includes objects made by native cultures of the present-day United States and Canada; paintings and decorative arts produced during colonial times; 18th- and 19th-century masterpieces; and the work of contemporary artists and photographers.

© Melissa Miller
American, born 1951
Oil on linen

59 x 95 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of Duke Energy

Arts of North America

Melissa Miller brings a realist's eye to her vividly imagined landscapes. A native of Houston, Miller grounds her work in her experience of the local landscape, and in particular the rocky countryside of central Texas. In 1984 she remarked: "I live in a hilly part of Texas full of scrubby trees, animals, water, and sky. Each day I observe dramas, contradictions, compromises, tensions, and endearments." Miller developed a series of richly allegorical paintings, essentially paradigms for the human condition, images that encompass themes of playful courtship to mortal struggle. By the late 1970s, animals became the chief protagonists in these allegories.

Tightly cropped, Flood focuses on the plight of three animals whose reactions to the rising waters chart a range of emotion, from the raging tiger to the crane who seems to arch its neck in despair. The one active figure in the composition is that of the crouching tiger, who tentatively tests a passing branch as a saving foothold.