An Alignment of the Stars: In Memory of Deb

Today, the stars have aligned, and what would have been Deb’s 53rd birthday also brought the achievement of Roan Zane McQuigg’s graduation from Perpich Arts high school. Throughout Roan’s journey toward young adulthood, Deb’s “magnum opus” has been an expressive artist, and this milestone is one to celebrate, as Roan moves into a new time of life and into the broader world. Congratulations to our amazing Roan!

Deb died over six years ago already, and our lives continue to be shaped and enriched by her insights and her love as we grow around the loss of her, forever formed by it. We miss her and love her.

In honor of Deb’s memory, we share that we will be making two gifts from the Debora Miller Memorial Fund. One donation of $500 goes to the Grand County Public Library in Moab, Utah, where she lived for some years as a young child, one source for her avid mind, as many libraries were throughout her life.

The second donation of $500 goes to KIND (Kids in Need of Defense), an organization dedicated to helping unaccompanied children through the immigration system, including legal support for kids separated from their parents or caregivers at the border. We certainly know the pain and sorrow of separation between a mother and child; but it also would have been a very important call to action for Deb if she was still here.

These donations are just one way we remember Deb. This year, we use the process to also note her birthday, which she was self-reportedly “shameless” about. We each, family and friends, carry her with us, finding ways to balance the dark and the light to let life keep winning.

We plan to give a gift (or gifts) in Deb’s memory each year for years to come, and we will keep you posted when we do. Thank you to all who have donated to the fund. If you would like to help to continue to build the fund, please let us know (via Donate).

Spring seemed to emerge slowly this year, so we’ve selected some images that Deb had created about Spring and early Summer. the first one was projected as the sun set and the middle image was woven into a transparency installation. The last image was newer work that Deb was developing for a future show.

With love.





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On Being Intrepid: In Memory of Deb

Our Deb died five years ago this February 28. We miss her.

In this last year we celebrated Deb’s life as a family during a big reunion at Wild Horse Island in Montana. Deb had donated her body for study to the University of Minnesota. They returned her ashes months after she died, and then it took us some time to find the right moment to honor her by dispersing them. Deb had shared many ideas about what she wanted done with her ashes, but was unresolved at the point of her death, so we had to take time to reconcile her expressed wishes. Things she had said pointed us toward spreading her ashes in a place where we found joy together as a group and would likely be together in the years to come, and letting them be carried around the world and further dispersed by our large, international family.

Wild Horse Island, where Deb’s brother John and his family have a small property, emerged as that special place. Though Deb never visited Wild Horse Island, it has become a primary reunion spot for us—and she would have loved it there, camping, hiking, swimming, and, spending time together, as we do. There we gathered this summer. We shared stories of Deb and how our lives are changed and evolving now. We each let some of her ashes go into the lake off a rocky point. Then we separated what remained for people to take to other special places around the world.

We think all the time about what Deb would say and do about this particular era we live in. It seems likely that she would have been completely appalled at the renewed attack on women’s rights our society is witness to today, and she would have been thankful for and empowered by the burgeoning #MeToo movement. No doubt she would have created some way to articulate the tension between those societal gestures in a work of art. This year, in her memory, we have drawn on the Debora Miller Memorial Fund to make two donations, each for $500. One is to Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, because Deb benefited in her lifetime from the services of Planned Parenthood, and now Roan volunteers for the organization.

The other donation has been made to the Art Shanty Projects. Deb rugged up for life on the frozen lakes of Minnesota in both 2007 and 2009 to project her images onto shanties, and learned much that would inform later work. Working on the shanties also placed Deb (and family) in the wildness of Minnesota—on the ice. That intrepid spirit was always part of Deb’s approach to so many things in life and art. Now, we’ll let that model help carry us forward in the challenges ahead.

We remember her, and continue to rely on her.

We plan to give a gift (or gifts) in Deb’s memory each year for years to come, and we will keep you posted when we do.  Thank you to all who have donated to the fund. If you would like to help to continue to build the fund, please let us know (via Donate).


The Mission Mountains and Flathead Lake, looking East from the heights of Wild Horse island


At this rocky promenade, we spread some of the ashes


The shore of Wild Horse island, at the edge of the property


We remember Deb


Sunflower Light, Dusk Projection 2, Medicine Lake at the Art Shanty project, 2009


Light Grasses, Dusk Projection 2, Medicine Lake at the Art Shanty project, 2009


Green, Dusk Projection 2, Medicine Lake at the Art Shanty project, 2009


Milkweed, Dusk Projection 2, Medicine Lake at the Art Shanty project, 2009

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On Hope over Hate: In memory of Deb

Tuesday, February 28th, 2017 marked four years since our Deb died. We long for her, and our lives continue to grow around the hole of missing her, informed by what she brought us, and by all that we can’t have with her gone. Her loving outlook, her art, some of her belongings, and her wit all continue to shape our perspective. 
Deb faced many things in her life, and hope in the better world she could help shape through positive action informed her approach to challenges large and small. It is a different time politically than perhaps we’ve ever experienced. Deb would have wanted to to organize with and participate in the resistance to the anti-immigrant fear mongering and the reckless nationalism that we currently face as a nation. So that is why it is fitting that we have chosen to honor that with a $500 gift in her memory to the Southern Poverty Law Center, to support its critical work in bearing witness to the injustice in our time and combating intolerance and the impact of hate in our culture.
We also remember that making art is local, it is about renewal of self and community and it is of course about planting a seed that grows. Deb was committed to that, and always looked around her at her place as she created her art. So we have also made a $500 gift this year to Glory Going Green in Greenport, NY. This nonprofit environment and arts program connects kids to the natural beauty of that special place through observation and the process of making art, carving out a space for their voices to emerge. 
As time passes, the Okame Cherry trees we planted in her memory in the garden of the Greenport library stretch to the sky, as do Roan and her many nieces and nephews and other children who so loved time cuddled up on the “Deb lounger” as her lap is known. We hold her precious.
We plan to give a gift (or gifts) in her memory each year for years to come, and we will keep you posted when we do. 

Okame Trees – 2017, Rebecca Miller


Interrupted Sky – 2009, Debora Miller

2012-11-20 16.28.07

“Tree Scape” – Nov 2012, Debora Miller

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On Northern Spark: In Memory of Deb

Three years ago tomorrow, Deb left this world, and we still miss her very much.

Our homes are filled with images that she created. They remind us of the experiential art works that she conceived, some of which she was able to produce for a public showing.

Of course, one of the difficult things about grief is recognizing the loss of the future, and we often wonder about all the things that never got to be. But as we each travel along this journey, surrounded as we are by loving friends and family, we find comfort by remembering all the wondrous beauty and lively imagination that Deb was able to share in her too short life.

One such realization of hers was the projection of images Deb created for Northern Spark 2011— the first year of Northern Spark’s Nuit Blanche: 24 hours of performance art hosted by Northern Lights. It was called MURMUR.

We found her contribution magnificent; it was fearlessly conceived and pushed well beyond the comfort of anything she had ever attempted before. Andy and Deb worked for months to build the back end of the tech together and, supported by many other people in the community, Deb created an amazing display that moved and inspired. We will always cherish the memory of that long day and night.

At the end of the night, Deb was tired but so deservedly proud. We believe that she was strengthened by this success, her spirit alight with new energy as she faced the next year—which was to be her last full year with us.

A grant from Northern Spark was instrumental in making that articulation of her vision possible. This year, to honor Deb’s memory we have donated $2,000 from the Debora Miller Memorial Fund to Northern Spark, and we take this opportunity to remember this special experience in our lives with her. With love.

We intend to make a similar annual gift for years to come. Thank you to all who have donated to the fund. If you would like to help to continue to build the fund, please let us know (via Donate).






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Remembering Deb

murmur Panel, Feb 2010

murmur Panel, Feb 2010

Two years ago today our dear Debora Miller died. There was so much to celebrate in her, and so much to grapple with in light of her loss. Both are ongoing. Thank you to everyone who has been there.

In the meantime, we have reflected on how to best remember Deb through the grant project we loosely identified right after she died. We established the Debora Miller Memorial Fund, and received many gifts to help build a resource to use in some way. We thank all who gave for entrusting us and being patient as we explored our feelings and ideas about what the right use of those gifts would be. We have decided to use that to fuel an annual gift to an arts organization or body that we feel somehow reflects Deb’s spirit, artistic engagement, and edgy smarts. And, we are now preparing to make the first gift–which we will do before June 7, which would have been her 49th birthday. We will post here to share the news when we have made the gift, and we look forward to many annual gifts to come.

If you would like to help to continue to build the fund, please let us know (via Donate).

Today, as a remembrance, we share images of life in Deb’s honor. One is of the wonderful tree created with shards of pottery and stones throughout the memorial weekend. It now has a home in the shadow of a mountain in Missoula, MT, at her brother John and Nerissa’s house. The other is of two new Okame Cherry trees recently planted in the garden of the Floyd Memorial Library in Greenport, NY. We regard them and think of Deb.

Mosaic Tree Of Life

Mosaic Tree Of Life

Okame Cherry Trees

Okame Cherry Trees


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Debora Anne Miller


DM1cDebora Anne Miller, a photographic artist who made her home in Minneapolis, MN, died of breast cancer on February 28, 2013. She was 46.

Born a twin into a large family in Portland, Maine on June 7, 1966, she grew up largely in the western United States. She graduated from Wallace High School in Wallace, ID, in 1984 and went on to study international relations at Macalester College in Saint Paul.

After moving to Minneapolis she soon met and fell in love with John Andrew McQuigg of Ohio. They were married in 1992 and settled in the Seward neighborhood. In 2000, she gave birth to their son, Roan Zane McQuigg, whom she lovingly referred to as her Magnum Opus.

An artist who often found the sublime in the mundane, Deb transcended her six-year battle with breast cancer time and time again to create beauty through her photography and installation works. Major works include the solo installation with projection called “Accretion” at ARThouse New London (2009); “MURMUR,” a large-scale interactive projection presented as part of the first Nuit Blanche festival (Northern Spark 2011); and her exploration of twinship in “I’m not me, she’s over there” at the Susan Hensel Gallery (2013). She shared her ideas about her work on her blog at

Her parting has left a hole in the hearts of many, who take solace in her clarity of purpose, her embrace of joy, and her love of life. She will be dearly missed and always remembered by her husband of 21 years, Andy, and their 12-yr-old son, Roan; her parents, Martha Calabretta and Joseph H. Miller IV, and stepparents, Bennie Calabretta and Dana Roberts; her seven siblings: Joseph Miller V, Patrick Miller, her twin sister Rebecca Miller, John Miller, Ben Calabretta, Lisa Calabretta, and Noe Roberts; many beloved aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews; and innumerable friends.

Deb’s keen eye, loving embrace, robust humor, and joyful outlook will carry us through our saddest and happiest days. She will be celebrated at a memorial gathering and wake March 30, 2013 in Minneapolis ( ).

In lieu of flowers, the family is looking for support to endow an arts grant to be developed in honor of Deb (Donate). Donations can also be made in her name to the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center ( ).

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Memorial and Wake

March 30, 2013
Family and friends will gather to remember and celebrate the life of Debora Anne Miller, June 7, 1966 – February 28, 2013, at two events on March 30, 2013 in Minneapolis, MN.

10:30 a.m: Cowles Conservatory at the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden
725 Vineland Pl., Minneapolis, MN
site map: sculpture_garden Wedding Sites Map

4:00 p.m. and into the night
Future home of Mother Earth Gardens Northeast:
2318 NE Lowry Ave (corner of Stinson Blvd and NE Lowry)
Parking is available on south side of Lowry, both sides of Stinson and on side streets within walking distance such as McKinley to the west of the future store.

In lieu of flowers, the family is looking for support to endow an arts grant to be developed in honor of Deb
(click the Donate menu above for more information).

Donations can also be made in her name to the University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center at


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Help Us Honor Deb Through Art

When Debora Anne Miller passed away on February 28, 2013, we also lost her artistic vision. Her family would like to honor her commitment and love of art by creating a grant in her name, perhaps in partnership with an arts organization. It will take some time to develop this idea, but we want to offer everyone the opportunity to contribute to the fund if they wish. To learn more, click the Donate menu above.

2012-11-08 14.43.37

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Debora Anne Miller 1966 – 2013

Our dear sweet Deb has passed away after her long battle with cancer.


Deb and Roan 2005, happier times


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Dark As Night

Awake, quite, at 2:30 am. What to do? Make a picture:
20130224-024343.jpgLight Sliver, February 24, 2013


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