A monograph by Greg Miller documenting 20 years of Ash Wednesday in New York City shipping Fall 2018
For over 20 years, Greg Miller has been photographing people participating in the ritual of receiving ashes for Ash Wednesday in New York City. Fascinated by the ancient observance of Lent, against the backdrop of contemporary New York, Miller began documenting this day, once a year, using a large format 8-by-10 inch view camera.
“When I first saw someone with a cross of ashes on their forehead, it seemed like they were revealing a secret about themselves that was almost mystical. The idea, then, of asking this complete stranger if I could take their picture felt more personal than usual, like I was asking for their soul. But my subject’s response was “sure,” as if I had just asked to photograph them with their hat or scarf.
While Ash Wednesday is a solemn day for practicing Christians, meant to observe one’s mortality and repent, my primary interest is in the visual juxtaposition of the contemporary with the ancient. I encounter my subjects on their way to Saks Fifth Avenue, running to an important meeting or to catch a train, yet they wear the mark of a sacred ritual.”
Greg Miller (b. Nashville, TN, 1967) is an American fine art photographer and Guggenheim Fellow. He received his BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts in 1990. Miller began his career as an assignment photographer for newspapers and magazines in New York. Dedicated to working with an 8-by-10 inch view camera, he has produced several bodies of personal work over the last 20 years including Nashville, Unto Dust, County Fair and, most recently, Morning Bus–photographs of local Connecticut school children waiting for the morning bus. Miller uses the large format camera, the serendipity of street photography and chance meetings with strangers to build insightful narrative photographs.
Miller’s work has been exhibited in several solo shows in Los Angeles, Barcelona and the Cheekwood Museum in Nashville, TN as well as group exhibits in New York City, including Yossi Milo, James Danziger and Sasha Wolf Galleries. His work has appeared regularly in TIME, Fortune, People, LIFE, The New York Times and many other publications.