Selected Quotes

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But Mills’ images go off like a bomb. The small-handed notion is to imagine Mills’ works take down Thoreau, but they don’t: Mills forces us to want the Wabanaki expertise. And this means everything. We learn from him something was never at our fingertips before.
—Daniel Kany, Art Review, Exhibit explores Thoreau’s relationship to Maine. Maine Sunday Telegram, November 12, 2017

He’s experimenting, for example, with making maps that use emperical data about things like taxes and incarceration rates, and pairing them with studies about people’s happiness and sense of freedom. He’s interested in whether there’s a correlation between taxes and contentment, or peace of mind and prisons. He’s not making conclusions as much as he is satisfying his innate curiosity.

—Bob Keyes, "At Bates, museum director his work as curator and artist”. Maine Sunday Telegram, February 22, 2015

Mills also puts into play a precarious balance between the well-designed sensibilities of the data-driven world of the printed map and the coolly disengaged ironical world of post-modernism with its post-structuralist lenses. On one hand, by presenting them mounted in frames, we see Mills’ maps as artifacts, antiquated and outdated. But by painting on them directly, Mills treats the maps as bases for knowledge and culture, living foundations worthy of direct contact with and participation in contemporary culture and knowledge.

Daniel Kany, “Art Review: Maine artists at the fore in NYC". Maine Sunday Telegram, November 30, 2014


Dan Mills's US Future States Atlas (2003-7) combines cartography with cultural criticism and wry political commentary about the United States' foreign policy and where it could lead. The artworks are simultaneously the medium and the message, serving as evidence that a map doesn't necessarily represent objective information but is frequently rooted in the biases, the ideology, of its creators. 
David Pescovitz, "Science, Art, and Magic: Signposts to the Future". Dissident Futures exhibition catalogue, 2014

In Quest, …the geometric order of the checkerboard is subsumed beneath luminous shapes and layers of color that vibrate visually and speak as much about the history of art as they do about the history of the world. Thus Quest makes the point that, far from being objective records of physical places, maps are themselves consciously constructed art forms. The geography they depict exists in human consciousness rather than within the landscape itself.

—Eleanor Heartney, "Will to Power,” Dan Mills: Quest & The US Future States Atlas and related material exhibition catalogue, 2012


US Future States Atlas - 
Dan Mills: Satire comes in many forms, and this collection of Dan Mills' work proves that a picture is worth far more than a thousand words. In response to George W. Bush's lame excuses for the invasion of Iraq, Mills has divided the world up into its component parts if it were all part of the United States Empire. Each new "state" comes complete with descriptions of the benefits derived by the original United States from occupying it, and lists the reasons its annexation was a necessity. Brilliant, scary, and intelligent, it would be side-splittingly funny if there wasn't such the ring of truth to it. It's as accurate a reflection of America's "me first" attitude towards the rest of the world as I've ever seen depicted in any media. This is a mirror not many people are going to like looking in, but if you have the courage to do so you might begin to understand the resentment so many other countries feel towards the United States.
—Richard Marcus, "Best Reads of 2009". Blogcritics, December 24, 2009


Why stop at 50? As Dan Mills points out in the mock manifesto accompanying his terrific show at Sherry Frumkin, these United States of ours cohered over time—starting with 16 territories in the 18th century, adding 29 in the 19th, and five more in the 20th. "As we consider U.S. history," he writes, "a pattern of expanding by at least five states every fifty years exists, with the exception of the last fifty or so. We clearly having some catching up to do.
 
—Leah Ollman, "Art Review: Dan Mills at Sherry Frumkin". Los Angeles Times, Dan Mills at
 Sherry Frumkin, October 30, 2009

If one were to place Mills’s work in the context of recent art history, among contemporary artists who have been galvanized by similar political themes, then he belongs in the rare company of no more than four or five artists, notably Öyvind Fahlström and Mark Lombardi. 

Mills considers imperialism a mediating form that exists between fact and fiction; in this moral maelstrom one thing one is certain: his object of desire inevitably will become our object of desire. Like Fahlström and Lombardi, whose works resist any kind of easy reading of the artist’s political vision of the world, Mills found his refuge in conceptual density and minimal lightness. Ultimately, what holds our interest in Mills’s work is the tension between what is read and what is seen. It’s no longer imagined.  It’s made.
—Phong Bui, "Dan Mills and His US Future States Atlas". US Future States Atlas, Perceval 
Press, 2009


It’s no longer ruled. It’s owned.
—Arundhati Roy 
When we look back less than a decade and consider the results of U.S. foreign policy decisions, predicated on and driven by long- and short-term global military-industrial ambitions, they have not been much less surprising or absurdly self-centred than the picture painted by artist Dan Mills' conceptual project US Future States Atlas. When we look back at U.S. foreign policy since the Mexican-American War in the 1840s and right through to the freshly-minted Obama administration's stances on the Middle East (particularly as regards its continuation of the disastrous Israel-Right-Or-Wrong position of previous U.S. administrations), the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, and, most significantly, the unquestioned and clearly-stated intention to continue, through a sustained massive global military presence, to act unilaterally whenever, wherever and with whatever force the U.S. government alone deems appropriate, the predictable imperialist picture seems quite clear.         
—Viggo Mortensen, Perceval Press. May, 2009

Global Reckoning: Maps That Make a Stand
In a series of related projects, Mills proposes a bold empire-building scheme. US annexation of countries as new noncontiguous states with military sites, natural resources, or workforces to exploit. “We are the imperialists of the twenty-first century,” Mills writes, “Let’s stop pretending. Rather than feign that our actions are benevolent, let us function openly as global imperialists whose actions are clearly defined by direct benefit to the US.” Mills suggests the takeover of Iraq, Iceland, South Korea, and Qatar as reasonable first steps towards establishing the USE (United States Empire, hence the title of his manifesto, “USE the World”).
—Gayle Clemans, "
The Map as Art". Princeton Architectural Press, May, 2009.