Order Up!: Feast your eyes on John Miller’s delectable pop art at the Lowe

Blue Plate Special Grouping, 2020. Hot sculpted, blown, and mold-blown glass with steel, 24 x 22 x 22 inches (overall). Collection of the artist © John Miller. Photo credit: Mario Clarke

Glass sculptures that are not only colorful, but look delicious? Count me in.

The works of pop artist John Miller are the newest addition to the on-campus Lowe Art Museum. On view through Jan. 14, Miller’s work features 35 oversized sculptures of everyday snacks and meals.

With Miami Art Week only weeks away, this art exhibit is free and easily accessible to UM students.

Walk in and you’ll run into giant lollipops, cupcakes, onion rings, popcorn, Chicago dogs and even foamed-up beer. You’ll easily leave hungry if you didn’t come in wanting to take a bite out of the artworks.

One of my favorite and most unique demonstrations was that of the “Blue Plate Special,” a set of sculptures that included a hamburger, french fries and a soda on top of a diner-esque table.

While it may just look like lunch to some, Miller incorporates his love for American diner culture as the blue plate special was a meal historically targeted towards blue collar workers of the sixties.

Another scrumptious sculpture would be the giant potato chips that lie in the center of the room with a stylized “M-n-S Palley Chips Co.” label to honor influential glass art collectors and Lowe Art Museum patrons, Myrna and Sheldon Palley.

The landscape for pop art is more open and optimistic than ever before. Artists like Damien Hirst — whose work is also on display in the Lowe — continue to show the versatility of pop art.

Miller first began to materialize the idea of making his sculptures while working on his MFA at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. It was during a lecture on pop art that he would find inspiration from Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and fellow sculptor, Claes Oldenburg.

After learning more about Oldenburg’s oversized sculptures, Miller became more inclined to make art that is fun and accessible to all people, regardless of their art knowledge.

Jill Deupi, chief curator and director of the Lowe, hopes that the exhibit will motivate more people in Miami and nearby towns to visit UM and see the Lowe’s marvelous collections.

Miller’s exhibit joins the effort in making art at the Lowe more accessible. Following the pandemic, Dr. Deupi removed the previous $12.50 admission fee to make the museum free of charge for both individuals and groups.

“The big idea is the democratization of art. It needs to be accessible and fun and needs to resonate with people in their daily lives,” Dr. Deupi told the New York Times.

If you’re in town and want an experience that transports you back to a sixties diner, fit with a jukebox playing classic songs from The Beatles, Elvis and Smokey Robinson, then you’ll love the “Order Up!” exhibit. Not only will it leave you nostalgic, but you’ll crave a burger afterwards.