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Watercooler 1820 - 2021 ?
A question carried upstream
Seeking Balance
A collaboration across the senses
Sleeping Babies /
Social Sculptures
Multimedia on a strip of asphalt
A car opera
in five acts
Powered by Moran
Travels to the past through the darkest parts of an old power plant
Contact Erika
Follow me on Instagram
See my work on Vimeo
Scrimshaw from the time between
Output / Input
Exploring communication as estuary
Between Land
and Water
Walking the
liminal line
White Noise
Greasy theater of the everyday
White Noise
In the gritty
matter of road salt
01 / 03

I’ve been interested in watercoolers since I began seeing them in American movies before they were available in Europe. In their playful way, watercoolers—the blue plastic, the jug upside down, the bubbles coming up, the heavy jug on the flimsy pedestal— were curiously satisfying. They felt lively but superfluous, serving a need that was created.

June 19, 2021 - November 07, 2021

Bennington Museum

Bennington Vermont


Almost a Toy

“Watercooler is a place where grown-ups engage with this little plastic thing that’s almost a toy.”

Erika Senft Miller

The watercooler sitting right next to a sink is an example of how we nonchalantly engage with something unnecessary, an object whose design is ridiculously imperfect, though we treat gathering around it as completely natural. Everybody uses the watercooler and nobody asks, “What are we doing?” “Why is it here?” It’s such a shortcut. It reminds me of when the catalytic converter was introduced. Rather than solving the problem of emissions, we just put something in front of it.


By removing the watercooler from its social context and placing it in the woods along a trail, we’re taking the magic out of it, deconstructing its function as a social alterplace, and providing a way to playfully engage with it and the larger questions it raises.


At the end of their visit to the watercooler and its clay counterpart in the museum, I offered people an opportunity to carry the conversation – and the water – home by offering them a handcrafted water cooler mug made of clay, a token that would remind them of the larger questions.

Post-COVID: The Water Cooler Goes Back to the Office
June 01, 2022 - August 31, 2022
The Karma Bird House
Burlington VT

Like so many of my multimedia performance pieces, the watercooler installation had an epilogue in a gallery located in a modern office building—The Karma Bird House in Burlington where the most avant garde creatives hailing from all over the world have their studios and offices.

The watercooler placed in the staircase invited people to pause and consider the smell, taste, color, and source of the water they were drinking.

Moving forward

Once the project had been installed and had traveled back to the gallery, ideas spilled out like water. It occurred to me that just as glasses are designed intentionally for various alcoholic beverages, water well deserved the same attention. So I worked with AO Glass, located in Burlington, to create a glass that is a bit wobbly just like water and precious just like a well-made wine or whisky glass.

In collaboration with AO Glass Burlington VT

  • Bennington Museum Curator

    Jamie Franklin

  • Production and Installation Assistance

    Seamus Hannan, Codi VanDyk, John Miller

  • Water Cooler Talk Audio Concept

    Erika Senft Miller

  • Audio Experience

    Seamus Hannan

  • Voices

    Lucian Benway, Joseph Besl, Gabrielle Rancoud-Guillon, Maxine Senft Miller.

  • Personal Watercooler Mug

    In collaboration with Burlington Potter, Dan Siegel.

  • Exhibition

    Giovanna Jager

    Eli Jager

    The Karma Bird House, Burlington VT

  • Water Glass

    AO Glass, Burlington VT

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Seeking Balance

Seeking Balance was a creative dialogue between myself and the parfumier Diane St. Clair. Our multi-sensory conversation began during quarantine when Diane was captured by a question of mine about the nature of balance and the process of balancing. My query prompted Diane to invite me to create the visual inspiration for a new perfume she would compose for cognoscente seeking balance. With this, we set off on the adventure that led to Seeking Balance.

May 08, 2020 - November 23, 2020

St. Clair Scents

The Champlain Valley, Vermont



Balance is an elusive state, the result of constant motion. It’s a condition we seek always and find only in moments. Balance dissipates when we hold it in our grasp.

Erika Senft Miller
Our Process

Our collaboration unfolded in epistolary fashion. Diane would send me a perfume - I would let this new scent ripple through me, then transfer this olfactory experience into paintings, Diane would then respond in kind. During the course of our physical exchange we maintained a warm virtual correspondence reaching, after several months, a resonant place of poise. As you read the exchange of emails that follows, invite yourself to feel this push and pull, and sense the constant movement that animates the art of seeking balance.


Erika: Hi, dear. I miss the rhythm of the space around me contracting and widening; the rhythm of coming and going, of stillness and movement; the rhythm and scale that orients me in my body and in my day. I wonder what to do when things tilt? How do we regain balance?

Diane: You must have read my mind. I’m playing with the idea that balance lies in the ever shifting dynamic of opposites coming and going in our lives, clashing, breaking apart, rejoining, crashing, smoothing out. It’s like water on a shoreline, breath in our chests.


Erika: The scent you created holds it all. Words seem limiting in describing the act and process of finding balance compared to the olfactory expression you created. I will move with it now…

Diane: I love hearing from you. I feel that our intentions often are ever similarly evolving. This scent has become a perfume that seeks to ground and calm, to be sparkling but rooted, to see the beauty of the earth, the flowers and the tree top fruits, as they wave at the sun. There are very dark notes and very bitter notes, sweet notes and green notes. Amidst the contrasts, we must find a balance.


Erika: The scent this time felt strong and empowering as well as inspiring. It says “Yes I can be in the process of finding balance without fear of falling.” It diffused all the anxiety I had experienced, freeing me from the need to fight it (long story...), and gave me a deep sense of honest strength. The scent felt like a remedy for a potentially very complicated fall and winter. Brava!!!! How are you?

Diane: I spoke with renowned perfume critic and biophysicist Luca Turin, who has written about historic perfumes, and is studying the exact physiological mechanism of smell. He said to think of perfume like a character in a novel. There can be many beautiful perfumes, but the really unique ones, the ones that stand out are like the character with the scar on his cheek, or the woman with the strand of gray hair set against a head of black hair, or the gentleman with a limp. That something can be odd, but in its oddness there is something appealing.


Erika: Contemplating the best process, I just opened your version, inhaled deeply, put it on my wrists....and my deep gut reaction was this image. The perfume has an edge to it! A sharpness that pulls me in but also challenges my assumptions. With time the edges soften and I relax into its supportive gutsy complexity... to be continued...Brava carissima! You are a magician!!

Diane: I love this. You are the artist, and this is your gut response to my fragrance. It’s the unmasking of the “scar” of this perfume.


Erika: I absolutely love the fearlessness of the scent - it’s the energy we need now and in the months to come. … Activism from our cells…

Diane: I just love working with you. You tie everything together. Is this our art for this project? Are you happy with it? I love its energy and dynamic. I’m still fiddling with the perfume. It’s really in the structure. I feel it needs more middle notes, so I’m searching for the right ones.

Finding Balance

Erika: As you are “fiddling” with the perfume, I am doing the same with my visual approach to our project. I am most curious about how I will experience your next iteration.

Diane: Today I sat with this damn perfume, still tweaking and fussing. It’s a bit greener and fresher at the top than it was. I wanted it to reach out and sparkle a bit more. I made the perfume (no alcohol) last week and will add my final changes. You know when you’re done and when you’re not, but this takes time and experience to learn.

Never Ending

Erika: I want to echo your words. I think we have to remember that the process of seeking and finding balance is never ending. When is the place where we step to the side and hand it over to others ? Where is the balance of giving and giving space…?

Seeking Balance

Our journey was expressed in words, scent and painting. Its olfactory manifestation is the perfume Seeking Balance. The perfume and the paintings we created are a manifestation of a time when everything had been thrown up in the air - a time of pandemic - a time that continues to immerse us all in the moment-by-moment challenge of seeking balance.

I invite you to inhale Seeking Balance, and I leave you with an inspiring quote from Diane: I hope that these scents provide a gateway to experience olfactory pleasure and, through scent, visceral remembrances. As the renowned French perfumer, Jean-Claude Ellena once said, “Perfume is a story in odors, sometimes, a poetry of memory."

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Behind The Scenes Commentary

Sleeping Babies / Social Sculptures sought the creative possibilities in the cracks of everyday life. I brought photographers, painters, designers, musicians, dancers, skaters, a filmmaker and members of the public to a secret skatepark, gave them the sound of 88 skateboard wheels playing off the music of instruments built from skateboard decks, then stepped out of the way.

July 25, 2017

Former I-189

Burlington, Vermont

Sleeping Babies

The artist Clark Derbes invited me to work on a performance at a secret skateboarding site that he painted in the cracks of time while his baby slept. His process reminded me of writing my dissertation within the demands of work and motherhood.

Social Sculptures

Features of the skate park operate both as functional objects and as social sculptures in Joseph Beuys’ sense of the term. When Clark invited me to create a performance in his space, an abandoned stretch of highway that the Burlington skate community had come to claim as a skatepark, I was immediately attracted. I was struck by the way the skaters leaned into the space, creating what they needed for their maneuvers, and what turned out to be meaningful social sculptures.


Secret Performance

It wasn’t technically legal to put on an event, so I invited a small group and swore its members to secrecy. This oath was kept and more than 160 people arrived. To blur the line between performer and audience, we invited performers and audience alike to wear matching hats that we handed out at the beginning.

Erika Senft Miller

Matt LaRocca and Graham Fisk performed on instruments built from old skate decks. Meanwhile skateboarders jumped over dancers as the audience moved down paths covered with Clark’s paintings. For 40 magical minutes, we opened up a collective crack in space and time, then just like that, it was gone.


Tactile Experience

Zines are an important part of skateboard culture. So, I invited designers and former skateboarders Michael Jager and Mikey Laviolette to create a Sleeping Babies / Social Sculptures zine that served as a memento. At the end of the last scene, dancers handed out the zine, and as epilogue people walked back to their cars reading.

Erika Senft Miller
Baby Monitors at the Gallery
November 03, 2017
Maven Skateshop
Burlington, Vermont

Documentation is such an essential part of the skateboarding experience. I wanted to integrate this element into the performance and subsequent exhibition. Accordingly, Micah Dudash filmed the performance in a fluid way, the camera’s movement reminding us of a skateboard moving through the features and terrain.

I also asked kids in the audience to film the event and edited their footage to create a video that shows the performance from the kids' perspectives. In addition, ten professional photographers captured varied points of view. Videos, photos and music created that day contributed to a follow-up exhibition, Baby Monitors, held at Maven, the local skate shop. During the exhibition, videos and slideshows were projected in the storefront window, on the shop ceiling and floor, and on monitors in the display shelves and dressing room, and musicians played live on their skate-deck instruments. On the way out, following the theme of memento, participants bought custom painted t-shirts and hats from the original performance.

  • Concept & Production

    Erika Senft Miller, Clark Derbes, Matt LaRocca, Michael Jager

  • Site Paintings & Costumes

    Clark Derbes

  • Dancers

    Sarah Alexander, Melanie Centeno, Holly Chagnon, Carmen Cormier, Sabrina Gibson, Mireya Guerra, Christine Holt, Sage Horsey, Lydia Kern, Ruby LaBrusciano-Carris, David Lansky, Jill Lyons, Sarah Macdonald, Joy Madden, Alice Maynard, Mollie Morgan, Alison Mott, Alana Phinney, Mia Pinheiro, Roxanne Scully, Elizabeth M. Seyler, Navah Stein, Annette Urbschat, Martha Ming Whitfield

  • Director of Skate

    Trina Zide

  • Skateboarders

    Ian Archibald, Kyle Burroughs, Jake Corey, Wyatt Cunningham, Domenica Maria D’Ottavio, Nate Dugan, Erin Featherstone, Brendan Foster, Brendan Grasso, Silas Hunt, Ray Iazzi, Ben Johnson, Luie LaHart, Maggie Leon, Gabriel Martin, Max McCurdy, Nick Meerburg, Jay Rehbein, Darren Rice, Jacob Rist, Lj Twombky, Kyle Vatis

  • Music Composition

    Matt LaRocca

  • Musicians

    Matt LaRocca, Graham Fisk

  • Audience Guides

    Clark Derbes, Erika Senft Miller

  • Zine

    Michael Jager and Mikey Laviolette of Solidarity of Unbridled Labour

  • Video

    Micah Dudash

  • Photography

    Dean Blotto Gray, Corey Hendrickson, Kelly Holt, Homer Horowitz, Jon Portman, Ashley Rosemeyer, Maxine Senft Miller, Michael Wisniewski, Asa Garcia-Derbes, Case J. Phinney

  • Bicycle & Food


  • Product Donations

    Converse, Maven Skateshop, Vermont Paint Company

  • Rehearsal Studio

    South End Surfset

  • Meeting Place

    Creston Guitars

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Behind The Scenes Commentary

AutoBiography highlights the tangle of functions that cars perform in our life stories. Completely immersive objects, automobiles are intertwined with almost every human biography. From the drive to the delivery room, to the first kiss against the car, to the hours stuck in traffic, to the crash. These common moments are strewn across people’s lives.

November 04, 2018

Marketplace Garage

Burlington, Vermont


Early childhood memories of riding in my parents’ old Volkswagen Beetle sparked the idea for this piece. I vividly remember the irony of my family’s ill-smelling car transporting me into the fairytale experience of seeing Schloss Neuschwanstein for the first time. Starting with these memories, I modeled AutoBiography’s first incarnation after Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

The Space

The Car Opera unfolded in a parking garage – a liminal space where people from all walks of life converge in random moments. In the parking garage, just like in traffic, we are all equal. With that in mind, we transformed five floors of the Marketplace Garage in Burlington, Vermont into an immersive environment that remained fully operational to the public throughout the performance.


The Performance

I worked with over 60 collaborators, including junkyard-owners, tow-truck operators, artists, lawyers, city officials, writers, and car dealerships. We created a sprawling five-act performance built around nine immersive installations that stimulated participants’ memories through light, sculpture, scent, and sound.

Erika Senft Miller
The Participants

As only four people at a time could fit into a car, we ran guided tours with groups of four, by invitation with one group departing every 15 minutes. At the same time, an unlimited number of people were able to purchase a program (designed as a car manual) for a self-guided tour. Participants in the guided tours appeared as actors from the perspective of the individuals on self-guided tours – as if both sets were involved in a red carpet experience.

AutoBiography: Short Term Parking
May 04, 2019 - May 06, 2019
The Karma Bird House Gallery
Burlington, Vermont

A three-day exhibition deepened and refined material from the original AutoBiography Car Opera. The installation featured 12 artists who presented works in scent, video, photography, and installation-specific gaming.

The Car Opera was a complex dream, with many moving parts, absurdities and textures. In contrast, Short Term Parking dove into the molecular layers of the dream.

  • Concept & Production

    Erika Senft Miller

  • Co-Production

    Burlington City Arts/Doreen Kraft

  • Visual Effects & Cars

    Aaron Stein

  • Light, Sound & Technology

    Leif Hunneman

  • Olfactory Experience

    Aaron Wisniewski, Alice & the Magician

  • Sound

    Matt LaRocca

  • Director of Audience Guides

    Jonathan Silverman

  • Production Assistant & Installation

    Lydia Kern

  • Movement

    William Arliss, Ava Bartlett, Joseph Besl, Henry Brandeis, Francis Cloutier, Real Cloutier, Carmen Cormier, Annabel Dilley, Mireya Guerra, Sage Horsey, Nicolas Hutt, Nolan Joyce, David Lansky, Lily Lawson, Thabitha Lerato, Kelly Malone-Wolfsun, Philip Nicolescu, Don Obviar, Christopher Robinson, Elizabeth Seyler, Lydia Sheffield, Navah Stein, Francine Thériault, Eva Zimet

  • Music/Sound Systems

    Alex Bigelow, Julia Caesar, Ari Erlbaum, Hannah Fair, ivamae, Rebecca Mack, John Mantegna, Annalise Shelmandine, Dan Siegel, The Sleepless Knights

  • Production, Materials & Sponsors

    Burlington City Arts/Doreen Kraft, Patrick Mulligan of the City of Burlington, Dealer.com, The Automaster, Premier Strength & Performance, Handy’s Service Center, Lucky Next Door, Spillane’s Towing and Recovery, D Richard Automotive, Downs Rachlin & Martin, New England Floor Covering, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group

  • Design & Media

    Alder Studio, Daniel Cardon, William Cottiss, Jude Domski, Bruce Gibbs, Gotham City Graphics, Renee Greenlee, Kelly Holt, Rob Hunter, Kim MacQueen, Katherine O’Brien, Mercedes Williams

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Behind The Scenes Commentary

Powered by Moran was a performance piece that challenged the audience to experience an abandoned coal-fired power plant in a new way. Fellow creatives in dance, sound and light joined me in a multi-sensory exploration that took us to the bowels of the plant. This former power plant is one of the last original structures on Burlington’s formerly industrial waterfront. The plant powered the city from 1954-1986.

June 07, 2015

Moran Plant

Burlington, Vermont

The Performance

I remember hearing the startled gasps when I stepped inside the trench and let the water run down my body. Performers and audience had to sign a liability waiver and put on hardhats in order to enter the facility — a secret and special place that had been boarded up for years.


The audience (limited to 80 invitees) following a tour guide, walked through a group of dancers who brought the daily activities of plant workers back to life. They were then led down metal stairs to the basement where waist deep trenches were filled with cooling water that circulated between the lake and the plant.


Naked feet

As the audience watched, three performers danced in and around the water. The energy built as we stepped inside the deep trenches, and peaked when we stood in front of the audience, removed our thigh high rubber boots and trusted our naked feet to the cold, grimy cement floor.

Erika Senft Miller
Make Moran
September 11, 2015 - October 09, 2015
Karma Bird House Gallery
Burlington, Vermont

Powered by Moran was featured in a gallery retrospective which included a sculptural re-interpretation of the performance using materials from the plant.

When I visit exciting landscapes I bring back small artifacts: a rock, a small branch, a piece of dried seaweed. These artifacts trigger memories that transport me back to the lived experience. I created the sculptural installations to distill the Powered by Moran performance in just this way. With a few stepping stones we brought the place to the viewer and set in motion a process of reflection regarding the existence of the site and its former function.

  • Concept & Production

    Erika Senft Miller

  • Movers

    Paul Besaw, Erika Senft Miller, Marly Spieser-Schneider

  • Movement Choir Director

    Sara McMahon

  • Lights

    John B. Forbes

  • Projection

    Hilary Hess

  • Sound

    Miles Dean Ewell

  • Movement Choir

    Erin Duffee, Laura Gordon, Beth Hartmann, Chong Ho Kim, Joy Madden, Anna Senft Miller, Abby Pepin, Jonathan Silverman, Martha Ming Whitfield, Lida Winfield.

  • Photographer

    Monika Rivard, Maxine Senft Miller, Amira Silverman

  • Moran Historian

    Roger Donegan

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Behind The Scenes Commentary

Two dimensional work is never two dimensional. It’s a manifestation of liminality in liminal space. Each piece lives in a new context, a gallery or exhibit. It invites and challenges viewers to engage. Just as I do as an artist, viewers enter the zone of the unknown where, guided by curiosity, they can transcend difficult emotional limitations.

Feel Totally

Screenprint on paper.

The Space Between

The concept of liminality is found in ritual as well as in nature. Liminality occurs in the space between: the space between land and water, between dirt and rock, the space between layers of connective tissue in our bodies and the space between the end of an exhale and the beginning of the next inhale. The space between creates entry points, invitations for multiple perspectives, a place for your own story.


“Food remembers,” I once read on a pizza box. That’s true for art as well.

Mixed media on canvas.

The Space Between Answers

Asking a meaningful question is more difficult than finding an answer. It is also far more rewarding and much more exciting.

Mixed Media on paper.


Space to breathe, space to see, space to think, space to love...Space is a fluid and essential element, just like water and air. Deeply personal, deeply political, deeply cultural, always essential.

Mixed media on paper.


You can’t surf the same wave twice but you can see it in more than 20 ways. I often record, document and produce work from multiple perspectives for just this reason. Capturing and embracing multiple perspectives expands our empathy and deeply enriches our experience.

Graphite and coffee on canvas.

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Behind The Scenes Commentary

This piece explores communication as a liminal space, established by our lack of control over how others receive our messages. In the space between what is spoken and what is understood, transformation can happen. As you browse, I invite you to think about what we mean when we say “website-specific.”

May 25, 2018 - June 04, 2018

The Karma Bird House Gallery

Burlington, Vermont

A Transformed Vault

The installation was held in the vault of an old warehouse where Burlington’s Karma Bird House Gallery is now located. For this installation, I converted the vault into an extension of my website, one that included a carpet made of live sod, a podium with cue cards, and a screen embedded into a white wall.

Conscious Connections

Physical presence and direct contact are lacking in the digital world. In this context, we easily forget that as human beings we always operate from our physical bodies, no matter how immersed we may be in the digital world. In this piece, I highlighted the issue by consciously connecting participants with the sense-rich physical world and with their bodies before drawing them into an interaction with the digital realm.


Freedom of Choice

Output/Input featured two interactive components: A podium with cue cards that prompted action through breath, movement or thought, and a computer on which viewers answered randomly generated questions, with no right or wrong answers. Just as the cards were cues for action, the computer-generated questions prompted thought, providing viewers with an occasion for freedom of choice without risk.

Erika Senft Miller
Sensory Contrast

The sod-covered floor provided sensory contrast to the digital experience. People instinctively reached down to touch the grass. The installation lasted 10 days and as the grass changed from fresh to dry, the smell that filled the room also developed.


New Understanding

Communication is an exchange between two entities. It creates an experience one could not have created on one’s own. By engaging with various sensory cues in the installation people are left with a new understanding of how important our bodies are, even in digital interaction.

Erika Senft Miller
  • Concept & Production

    Erika Senft Miller

  • Programming

    Alder Studio

  • Images

    Dan Cardon

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Behind The Scenes Commentary

This performance started as a dance piece. Each time I returned to the site I saw something different and invited all kinds of people to collaborate. As you browse, think about a place that changes you every time you visit it.

September 10, 2016

Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center

Burlington, Vermont

Liminality at the Lake

Lake Champlain is Burlington’s biggest resource but many people never get to the place where land and water meet. The possibilities at the edge are endlessly exciting. Marc Naud, director of the Sailing Center, and I believe that once people have a positive experience of a place they will develop a powerful sense of stewardship. With that purpose in mind, this performance pulled people and all their senses right to the edge of the lake.

The Performance

The community sailing center is tucked away on the shoreline between the old Moran Power Plant, the Burlington Coastguard station and the public fishing pier. Not an easy place to find. You know you have reached the right spot when you see what looks like all of Burlington’s population standing in line to receive life jackets and to sign liability waivers.

You might imagine that they are signing up for a sailing lesson when in fact they are about to enter a performance. You put on the orange life jacket that hundreds of water-folks have worn before you, and feel the smell of adventure and excitement.


Springing to Life

Musicians at the foot of the dock begin to play, and three dancers start to move, guiding you with the rest of the audience down the dock. Over the next 30 minutes the endless possibilities the lake has to offer come to life. A choir sings as they are rocked by the dock’s movement, a musician in a bosun's chair plays guitar while hanging in the air, a kayak duet, a choreography of 10 paddle-boarders, 10 dancers on the breakwater west, dancers on the fishing pier south, dancers at the edge of the dock, and videographers and photographers in the water and amongst the audience, with a flying drone filming from above.

Erika Senft Miller

Now, the three main dancers arrive at the far edge of the dock, facing west, looking at the lake and the Adirondack Mountains, and begin lowering themselves into the water as the sun sets. The performance ends. You look around one more time, take it all in, and begin talking to the people next to you as you realize that you are in the liminal space between land and water, the figurative estuary of endless possibility and adventure.

Of Land and Local
September 29, 2016 - October 23, 2016
Shelburne Farms
Shelburne, Vermont

Filmed and photographed from the air, land and water, footage from Between Land and Water was featured in the Burlington City Arts’ Of Land and Local exhibit. The exhibition took place at Shelburne Farms, situated on the same shoreline as the Sailing Center. The film was projected onto a hanging sail, while people watched from a piece of a dock resting on the ground. The exhibition ended with me paddle-boarding from the Farm to the Sailing Center, thus bringing the experience back home.

  • Concept & Production

    Erika Senft Miller

  • Dance Choreography

    Clare Byrne, Sara McMahon, Erika Senft Miller, Marly Spieser-Schneider, Lida Winfield in collaboration with dancers

  • Paddleboard Choreography

    Roxanne Scully

  • Kayak Choreography

    John H Miller

  • Yoga-based Choreography

    Christine Holt, Jill Lyons

  • Dancers

    Angela Arsenault, Blair Bean, Ellen Bernstein, Holly Chagnon, Coulter Cluett, Nicole Dagesse, Mia Fishkin, Heather Fitzgerald, Shanley Hinge, Sage Horsey, Ryan Kabilian, Ruby LaBrusciano-Carris, Shannon Lipkin, Scott Luria, Sarah Macdonald, Olivia Malone, Sara McMahon, John H Miller, Mollie Morgan, Otto Pierce, Mia Pinheiro, Hanna Satterlee, Roxanne Scully, Erika Senft Miller, Elizabeth Marie Seyler, Karen Spach, Marly Spieser-Schneider, Liesje Smith, Jonathan Silverman, Helaina Stergas, Carey Strobeck, Lindsay Tompkins, Emily Velush, Martha Whitfield, Elzy Wick, Lida Winfield

  • Dancers from Burlington Movement for Parkinson’s Class

    Annabelle, Bea, Carl, Darlene, Francie, Gary, Jim, Pete, Ron, Sarah, Sue, Sue, assisted by Tracy

  • South Burlington Community Choir

    Kathleen Bachus, Rose Bacon, Janet Dattilio, Mike Dowling, Karen Jette, Patrick Maguire, Deb Noel, Susan Paquette,Lori Rippa, Merle Siiro, Sue Stoner, Marla Weiner; Directed by Matt LaRocca

  • Musicians

    Jeremy Frederick (guitar), Shannon Hawley (guitar) Matt LaRocca (piano, guitar, and viola), Adam Wood (keyboard), Ula Klein (guitar and voice), Directed by Matt LaRocca.

  • Videographers

    Water: Hilary Hess, assisted by Anna Senft Miller; Land: Martin De Geus, Doreen Kraft; Air: Oxbow

  • Photographers

    Maxine Senft Miller, Amira Silverman

  • Art & Design

    Ellen Voorheis, Solidarity of Unbridled Labour, Jasmine Parsia, Iskra Print Collective

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Behind The Scenes Commentary

We performed on the last night that the building still had the remnants of an oven factory, activating a process of reinventing the new space where the assembly and manufacture of new ideas would take place. With this transition in mind, I designed the performance to unfold like the process of producing a Blodgett oven on an assembly line, and to take advantage of factory elements left in place.

November 17, 2018

Blodgett Oven Company Factory

Burlington, Vermont

The Performance

For one night, in the space between old and new, approximately 200 people were called to “the employer’s office.” Inside, coffee cups, family photos and order forms on the desks generated the sense that the staff and their boss had just clocked out for the day and would be back at work the next morning. Like generations of Blodgett Oven employees, the audience was given safety instructions and asked to sign liability waivers before purchasing tickets. With the instructions heard and waivers signed, the doors to the Blodgett oven factory opened.

Moving Sculptures

Imagine you are inside, peering down the factory’s dark cathedral-like center gallery, just like generations of workers had done until only a few weeks prior to the performance. The floor threatens with almost invisible metal splinters. A performer slowly pushes a light-filled trashcan toward you, as light beams and dancers begin to create moving sculptures. Eventually, the scupltures light a corridor for you to traverse. The sharp lines remind you of a laser cutting sheet metal - the first step in the manufacturing process.


Hidden Complexity

One dancer moves another on a pushcart that had transported oven pieces to assembly stations. The dancers wear dresses made from plastic sheets just like the welding curtains still hanging in the space. A group of dancers emerges and carefully sweeps the dusty floor with the same brooms that were used to keep the factory clean. The dust particles lift, making visible the red laser beam shining down the elongated space. A reminder of the hidden complexities in manufacturing objects we all use daily.

Erika Senft Miller

Flashlights, like welding spots holding together the metal pieces that form the oven, provide lighting for a dance solo, then a duet. The dancers lead you down the aisle to the next scene. 11 dancers with 11 large safety mirrors start moving in synchronicity, reflecting back images of the audience and the large space around them. You have now arrived at the end of the production line. Just like the finished ovens, you are given a quality control card by one of the three collaborators, Craig, Erika or Miles. You exit at the loading dock.

  • Concept & Production

    Erika Senft Miller, Miles Ewell, Craig Winslow

  • Choreography & Movement

    Erika Senft Miller, Holly Chagnon, Mireya Guerra, Sage Horsey, Alana Rancourt Phinney, Navah Stein, Martha Ming Whitfield, Angela Arsenault, Lydia Kern, Jill Lyons, Meghan Letizia, Meghan McClure, Allison Piette

  • Production Assistants

    Sage Horsey, Lydia Kern, Neha Shastri

  • Costumes & Props

    Erika Senft Miller assisted by Lydia Kern

  • Graphic Design

    Craig Winslow

  • Box Office

    Anna Senft Miller, Neha Shastri, Nate Stritzler

  • Photo & Video

    Micah Dudash, Renee Greenlee, Maxine Senft Miller

  • Special Thanks

    Russ Scully, John Caulo, HULA, Downs Rachlin Martin, John Miller, Anna Senft Miller, Maxine Senft Miller, Maggie Bignell, Russ Scully, John Caulo

  • Choreography

    Erika Senft Miller

  • Sound Design

    Miles Ewell

  • Video Projection & Light

    Craig Winslow

  • Music & Sound

    Miles Ewell

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Behind The Scenes Commentary

This performance was the product of considerable research. I explored salt in history, chemistry, and nature. My inquiry into its logistics provided the structure and story. Movement was inspired by the chemical formula and process of combining Na+ and Cl- to NaCl; the monotonous and heavy work of mining salt; the wealth and status that salt represented, and the complicated journey from salt mine to salt shed. Sound and video, costume and choreography, props and movements all contributed to this salty tale.

October 09, 2016

Vermont Railway Salt Shed

Burlington, Vermont

The Performance

Imagine that you lived in ancient Egypt when salt was traded as a precious commodity like oil and gold. Now return to the present and envision a huge salt storage shed in the unlit, almost unattended, no man’s land behind a parking lot.

The Approach

Along with 159 other invited guests, you are guided to this place with a flashlight. As you approach, you hear a live saxophone. Suddenly, ten dancers appear on a gravel mountain situated next to the shed. The dancers come rolling down the mountain and guide you into the large metal shed.


Salt Mirrors

You hear a soundscape, then notice a video projection mapping onto the huge walls. Dancers in white, grey and black tones, mirroring the palette of salt crystals, invite you into the space. The air feels calming, yet energized - just like a salt spa.

Erika Senft Miller

You go deeper into the shed, arriving at the final scene where a video projection directs your eye to the massive mountain of salt. Dancers emerge and struggle toward the top never quite reaching the edges. A sudden shift in light and sound restores you to reality. You now realize you are in a principal storage site for road salt, an essential element of road maintenance and everyday life on the icy winter roads of Vermont.

White Noise Now: SALT Exhibition
October 09, 2016
The Karma Bird House Gallery
Burlington, Vermont

After White Noise Now: SALT, the audience gathered in a nearby gallery to share drinks and salt-related experiences — salted chocolate, salt skin care demos, and jewelry from road salt crystals that I fashioned in collaboration with a local jeweler. Each piece, like a mandala, was a meditation on impermanence, an extension of the performance into the larger world, where salt melts ice on wintery roads and people travel on.

  • Concept & Production

    Erika Senft Miller, Miles Dean, Craig Winslow

  • Dancers

    Holly Chagnon, Nicole Dagesse, Christine Holt, Sarah Macdonald, Mia Pinheiro, Elizabeth Marie Seyler, Jonathan Silverman, Liesje Smith, Avi Waring, Martha Whitfield, Michelle Winchell Struckholz, Lida Winfield

  • Photo & Video

    Amira Silverman, Maxine Senft Miller, Micah Dudash, Driven Studio

  • Special Thanks

    Vermont Rail System, Brion Muzzy, Giovanna and Michael Jager, Karma Bird House Gallery, Adobe Creative Residency, Signal Kitchen, Barbara Heath (Live Saxophone), Peter Fried (Visual Artist), Katy Hellman (Gallery Event Organization), Jane Frank Jewelry, Maria Gould, honeybloombeauty.com, Gary Coffey, Lake Champlain Chocolates

back to start


I create multi-sensory experiences that invite you to play at the edges of the known.

I'm driven to this by a deep curiosity about overlooked places and stories that have remained unseen. Inspired by these tales and locations, I take people on adventures where the ordinary becomes extraordinary, where work becomes play, where senses come alive and perspectives shift. Such encounters with larger contexts lead us into the uncharted places where exploration and the chance to become truly human begin to unfold.

Please click on the icon to hear a bit more about my process. Thank you for listening.


This moment in a meadow by King Ludwig’s fairy castle opened in me a sense of limitless play that guides my work to this day.

The Net Works - Now Open through Memorial Day

The Net Works

A multi-sensory installation that invites visitors into the tender human moments at the heart of Gloucester’s fishing community.

May 10 - May 27, 2024

Thursdays through Sundays,

4:30 pm - 7:30 pm and by appointment.

52 Commercial Street (behind Mom’s kitchen) Gloucester MA


The Net Works Artist Talk

Maritime Gloucester invited me to give an artist talk and share about my process and behind the scenes of The Net Works.

April 30, 6pm.

I invited Jimmy Tarantino and Ann Molloy to join me. They have been my mentors, collaborators, supporters, cheerleaders and steady guides in all things Gloucester Fishing. Rebecca Reynolds and JoAnn Castano from Manship introduced me to Ann and Jimmy more than four years ago.

Truly looking forward to this evening and questions from the community.

The Net Works

The Net Works

opens May 10.

52 Commerce Street, Gloucester MA.

4:30-7:30pm, Thursdays - Sundays until May 27.

After 4 years in process and with so much support from more organizations and people I can list here, there is reason to celebrate.

Playing with Nets

This May, the Net Works project, that has been in process for several years, will open with a multisensory installation in Intershell's former seafood processing plant on the working waterfront in Gloucester MA.

I couldn't be more excited to work with such an incredible crew, both artists and folks from the fishing community.

The process has been a journey at sea in a metaphorical sense. The generosity and enthusiasm from the community is heartwarming and inspiring and essential to make this project come to life.

On my most recent site visit, Jimmy Tarantino, who is in charge of all things local and fishing-related for this project, showed me all the different nets fishermen use. These nets are works of art. Can you imagine repairing these complex constructs in the precision of a fraction of an inch (national regulations) while the ground (the boat) moves in 30 feet plus high waves?

Net Works

Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been an artist in residence at Manship in Gloucester MA, both virtually and in person. I received a learning grant from NEFA to research, explore and connect with the Gloucester fishing community and working waterfront.

For me, working with 'data' is like taking the exposed film to the dark room. It takes time as the image slowly moves into focus. The unexpected happens and perspectives shift.

I have invited amazing artists to collaborate with me on this project. Craig Winslow (video light), Jessica Zollman (production coordination, photography) Miles Ewell (sound),Neha Ewell (sound), Aaron Wisniewski, Lindsey and Stina as Alice&the Magician (scent).

After an extended visit as a team with great folks in the community, we now are steeped in our own creative processes. Scheduled zoom meetings every few months allow for us to continue weaving the proverbial net. We share, reflect, critique and ask questions before we go back into our own process. In addition, there is fundraising, grant applications and still the site to be finalized. Those aspects happen in Gloucester, by Manship our host. That part of the process feels much like being on a fishing boat at sea. There is no finite schedule nor outcome.

"That's why it's called fishing and not catching." Jimmy T, a Gloucester based fisherman of many generations, wisely said.

Isn't life in general more like fishing than catching ?

Are you interested in being part of this project? Want to contribute with in kind donations, money or just have a question? Please contact me for more information: erika@erikasenftmiller.com

Resident Artist Residency

During the pandemic, together with a friend and fellow artist, we created our own residency program. A conversation about the dream of another artist residency that would allow for uninterrupted studio work and critique opportunities, lead to a lamentation of the restriction the pandemic imposed, as well as the drawbacks of shared bathrooms and sometimes forced conversations in unfamiliar environments. I suggested a new format of artist residency that fit within the limitations of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

We created a resident artist residency, each of us in the comfort of our own studio, working according to an agreed schedule with facetime studio visits and reading discussions at the end of each day. We both loved it so much that we now are in our second resident artist residency.

My project for this week is to create visual narratives and scripto-visuals for “NetWorks” project.

This week’s structure and commitment will allow me to leave my role of project managing and completely live in the right side of my brain as well as my body/gut. That’s where I will work from and allow myself to be scared and surprised.

For past scripto-visuals see Medium.

The Net Works

A fundraising gala for The Current,Stowe, VT Art center, was the spark to make a new dress/costume. The theme was “wild” as in colorful.

I am currently intrigued by the color electric yellow - yellow with a slight hint of green. In addition, pink seems to be the color of the season. Here in Burlington,Vermont, shopping for fabric is limited to repurposing existing garments and one local Jo-Ann’s Fabrics store. At the store, I found the perfect yellow and pink lycra fabrics. The colors bright, the material stretchy to allow for unrestricted movement in a tight long dress.

I wanted additional layers for added drama, maybe inspired by watching the Met gala. Tulle isn’t my thing though. In the “utility” section of the store, between plastic for slipcovers and thick canvas for boat cushions, I found camouflage netting. The perfect amount of ruffle while allowing the layers underneath to shine through - visual drama with a ruffly sound effect. Now I was excited - free from tulle.

Part of this dress is a fishing net - made by myself. The openings are state regulations - I learned the fine art of net mending from Captain Joe in Gloucester, MA during my artist residency and research for my multi-sensory installation the "Net Works."

The trail/ skirt is camouflage material used by hunters. In short, it’s an ode to my fishing friends (close to my heart) and hunters (close to there ground - where I live)

You can see more of my wearable art/soft sculpture costumes on vimeo.

See images of this dress on my IG.

Watercooler 1820 - 2021? Its Newest Iteration

Like most of my projects, Watercooler 1820 - 2021?, the multimedia installation I created for NBOSS, Bennington museum in 2021, had a gallery/workspace iteration during the spring of 2022.

Now, its third iteration exists on this website. Check out the project page.

In addition, last fall, I began a collaboration with the amazing glassblower Rich Arentzen and his team at AO Glass in Burlington VT. We created water glasses that celebrate the gift of fresh good drinking water. You can see a video of the glass in action on the Watercooler project page.

If you like to own one or several of these wonderful glasses, email me your order: erika@erikasenftmiller.com

Play on Instagram

Last year I made my first film, in collaboration with filmmaker par excellence Lukas Huffman. We had two immersive viewing experiences. These were truly multisensory experiences with live performance and other adventures at surprise sites.

The Vermont International Film Festival invited us to create a new boundary breaking film experience.

Now, 4 months later, these experiences are unfolding on my Instagram account. I love playing with these different sites. How can a project be immersive and alive on IG?

Check it out here on IG

Kintsugi Angel - A Film about a New World

Last fall, Lukas Huffman and I made a film. The film is set in an alternate reality, two curious life forms search for social connection.

Kintsugi Angel is an experimental short film inspired by the emotional toll of COVID-19 and the resilience of the human spirit.

It premiered as a private viewing event at a car salavge yard on a dark Friday evening in April.

New viewing events:

Susan Calza Gallery, Montpelier, VT October 7-9.

Vermont International Film Festival, Burlington VT, October 29.

Gloucester's Working Water Front - The Net Works - A Multi- Sensory Art Installation

It's been a bit more than two years ago that I started working with Manship artist studios and residencies, Gloucester MA, as an artist in residence. NEFA supported this site- and community specific project with a learning grant. The generosity and openness I have been met with, both in the arts and the fishing communities, has moved and buoyed me beyond this project and my wildest imagination.

August 11-14, my collaborators joined me for a few days of immersive exploration and research of site and community. Manship Artist Residency hosted all of us and was a great "basecamp." Late night and early morning brainstorming sessions around the large kitchen table fueled body and soul.

The generosity and creative energy in the fishing community (special thanks to James Tarantino and Ann Molloy) is mirrored in this group of talented artists who are on board for creating a multisensory immersive experience for and about Gloucester's working water front for 2023, Gloucester's 400 plus celebrations.

In this next stage of the project we will each be working in our own studios as well as process via shared google docs and zoom meetings.

Meet the team: Craig Winslow and Jessica Zollman, Portland OR; Miles Ewell and Neha Ewell, NYC, NY; The team of Alice & the Magician, Burlington VT;

Moving and creating between land and water at the working water front.

Mirror Vision 1787 - 2022 - A Multimedia Installation at Bennington Museum, VT.

Mirror Vision 1787 – 2022 NBOSS 2022, Bennington Museum, Vermont.

I created this installation as an invitation, a chance to reflect on how we see ourselves, each other, and our surroundings in the context of what lies behind us.

This installation spans the distance between two convex safety mirrors installed in mirrored fashion on opposite sides of a tree along a wooded path at Jennings Brook, and several mirrors located in the museum, including an early one from 1787.

For continued play, we made super sweet viewfinders for you to explore Hindsight, Foresight and Insight. You can purchase these limited edition handcrafted viewfinders in the museum giftshop or by contacting me directly.

Head Stretchers Society

What is The Head Stretchers Society?

One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. - Oliver Wendell Holmes

The super elastic mind of Michael Jager and his team, the designer powerhouse Solidarity of Unbridled Labor created a video series of people who stretch minds and inspire. I had the honor to make it into the ranks of the Head Stretchers Society. Check out "The Curious Lefty."

Filming and talking about my work and my process was a treat. I had a blast dancing at 5 am in the bowl of a skatepark followed by barefoot dancing in the woods. The director's and team's engaging questions inspired me and certainly stretched my mind beyond the known. I hope these video portraits do the same for you.

Water Cooler Future

The Water Cooler 1820 - 2021 from the show at Bennington Museum in southern Vermont has completed its mission.

As we are entering the second winter with Covid in the mix, Zoom meetings and remote working seem to be here to stay in some iteration.

In 2022, The Water Cooler will appear in a new light and new context. I am very excited collaborating with the amazing team from karmabirdhouse.com

What makes an, albeit fleeting, conversation meaningful?

How important are in person chance encounters?

Is a meeting around the water cooler different from a meeting at the coffee shop or at the supermarket?

These are some of the questions we are asking.

Stay tuned for more details

  • hydrate - reuse - recycle -
Net - work

With the great support of a NEFA learning grant and a residency at Manship in Gloucester MA, I am working on a proposal for a multisensory project for Gloucester, MA and its incredible fishing community at the working water front.

By connecting with the community both virtualy and in person, I have met amazing people, heard important stories, had generous access to the archives at Cape Ann Museum, inhaled incredible smells, learned to mend fishing nets, toured a fish processing plant and had my first dory rowing experience.

Now, back in my studio and steeped in the process, some questions keep pushing to the center:

What makes a project meaningful for both the local fishing community as well as visting art enthusiasts?

Can site specific work span past, present and future?

Can a multisensory installation be both playful, open minds, create empathy and shift perspectives?

Can such an installation make new and mend old relationships?

Follow the unfolding of the project on my IG as well as here.

Water Cooler 1820 - 2021 at Bennington Museum, VT

Water Cooler 1820 - 2021 started as an outdoor sculpture and evolved to a pentaptych (I had to look up what a five piece visual art work is called:)

1) Jennings Brook runs through the grounds of the Museum and is worth a trip in itself. The damm was created around 1820.

2) Water Cooler 1820-2021,the sculpture, stands right next to the brook.

3) Walk the beautiful nature trail to the museum and find Water Cooler 1820-1823, the original stone ware water cooler,in the permanent collection in the museum’s Early Vermont Gallery. Jamie Franklin, the curator recorded a wonderful audio tour for this.

4) Water Cooler mug was a collaboration with Burlington Potter Dan Siegel. You can purchase your own water cooler mug in the museum store.

5) Listen the Water Cooler Talk, the audiotheater, while you stand at one of these water coolers or sip your beverage of choice from your water cooler mug at your desk during a zoom meeting with your collegues.

The sculpture exhibit is open through October 2021.

Multi-Sensory Public Art in a Pandemic

We are entering year two of THE pandemic and our lives are taking place on our screens. I continue to explore ways for multi-sensory multimedia art experiences, ways of fueling our sensory world while we live in the digital world.

The two year long performance series OffSiteOnTime, 2017- 2019, still feels very relevant and I hope it offers inspiration and ideas for fellow artists and anyone intersted in keeping our senses engaged and our humanity fueled.

I look forward to hearing from you with projects, questions, comments.

OffSiteOnTime on instagram and on vimeo

Site-Specific Work During a Pandemic

Last year, I was invited to an artist residency at MARS in Gloucester,MA. I also received a NEFA learning grant in support of this residency.

Before I was able to work on site, COVID put a stop to all plans. The residency is now virtual, until I can safely visit. Despite (or because?) the circumstances, our ‘network’ has been strong and continues to grow. I am grateful for so many inspired and generous conversations via phone, FaceTime and Zoom with the MARS and Gloucester community.

I feel a strong connection and commitment to place and people. The pandemic continues to push me beyond familiar paths in exploring new ways to develop truly site specific work from a distance.

Read more here.


I'm so pleased to share the first video by Micah Dudash of the OffSiteOnTime series. This performance that he filmed happened in 2017 at The Vermont Arts Council in Montpelier and was the seed of a two-year project that examined the lines between performance and installation, audience and performer.

If you're interested in learning more about the project, head to the Vimeo page and check out the description.

Masked Play

With the new demands of wearing a face mask when in public I have been playing with ideas and variations of masks - how wearing a mask changes my breathing, my interactions, my movement. Within the restriction are possibilities: I just made 6 different masks for my friends. They look more like social sculptures and we are ready for a masquerade ball. The German 'Maskenball' literally tanslates to mask ball. Different personalities of masks transforming different faces.


I started a new "drawing per day" series where I make a drawing using the same three media: blue chalk, red oilstick and a graphite pen on a 14 x 18.5 cm sketch pad. The materials were a gift from my daughter. I make each drawing at breakfast, processing a dream or emotion that arrived the night before. The strict limitations of media, paper and time allow me to dive quickly and freely into the process and, lead by my curiosity, to witness what emerges on the page.


  • 02.10.21
    Perfumer Diane St. Clair and Artist Erika Senft Miller Collaborate on a New Scent

    "The perfumer asked the artist to create a visual component to go with the scent. During the seven months when St. Clair was developing Seeking Balance, she sent different versions to Senft Miller, who took her time opening and smelling them and chose the medium she felt inspired to use: watercolor, which Senft Miller said wasn't a common choice for her."

    Margaret Grayson, Seven Days, VT

    Link to article

  • 10.31.18
    'AutoBiography': A Performance About Car Culture

    “AutoBiography: A Car Opera in Five Acts is, as its title suggests, about cars: their roles in our lives, the possibilities and limitations they represent, the memories they evoke. - AutoBiography involves all five senses as it leads audiences through the five levels of Burlington's Marketplace Garage. Oh, and that downtown parking garage will remain operational for the public throughout.”

    Amy Lilly, Seven Days, VT

    Link to article

  • 05.14.18
    Adam Rabin interviews Erika Senft Miller

    “We talk about the journey that brought her from Germany to Sweden to Philadelphia and then to Vermont and all of the lessons she learned along the way.”

    Adam Rabin, imadeitup.com

    Link to article

  • 04.12.17
    Tuning In to ‘White Noise Now’

    Charles Purdy wrote a piece about WhiteNoiseNow: SALT “It was a total creative explosion, - spaces that are mostly unseen but that are pretty incredible when you actually see them. White Noise Now is about finding the adventure in the known, or seeing the unknown in the known.”

    Charles Purdy, Adobe Create

    Link to article

  • 12.28.16
    SevenDays VT, Favorite Art Exhibitions of 2016

    WhiteNoiseNow: SALT “... a riveting production in an unconventional industrial location: the salt shed owned by Vermont Railway…”

    Sadie Williams, Seven Days

    Link to article

  • 10.26.16
    Talking Art: Erika Senft Miller

    “But that would be just a summary, when Senft Miller's work can't be summarized — it has to be experienced. It's neither dance nor theater. It's site-specific performance art. And while her work is largely collaborative, it succeeds because of her particular talent for amplifying the efforts of her fellow artists.”

    Sadie Williams, Seven Days

    Link to article

  • 09.08.16
    For Art Hop, A Dancer Explores Liminality At The Edge Of Lake Champlain

    "Between Land And Water" is a multi-sensory performance choreographed by Erika Senft Miller that will take place on Burlington's waterfront … She'll act as a conductor of sorts, orchestrating a multi-sensory performance with more than 40 artists and dozens of moving parts. The piece is meant to touch on a concept Senft Miller uses often; that of liminality, or that ambiguous place between the stages of a ritual. She describes it as, "The time or place where you are too far in to return, yet not far enough to see where you will arrive."

    Mary Engisch, vpr.org

    Link to article


Whether you’re looking to collaborate, talk more about my work or just have a conversation, get in touch.