Dutes Miller & Stan Shellabarger are a married gay couple that creates performance art pieces together. A 2009 FiberArts article explains that they “work across a range of media that includes performance art, installation, printmaking, artist books, and paper collage, to create pieces that act as a log of shared experience.” One of the mediums the work in is crochet. Crochet artists are rare in comparison to the rest of the general art world and male crocheters are rare as well so the crochet work of this art team definitely interests me!

More about Crochet Artists Miller & Shellabarger

The team’s artist bio says that the Chicago-based couple began working together as artists more than 17 years ago. They “explore the dynamics of love and loss through performance pieces that emphasize the artistic process as a metaphor for the cycles of life and death, of connection and separation.” Many of their pieces explore the idea of identity (such as individual identity in a relationship). And some pieces, including their crochet pieces, make a statement about gender and sexuality in today’s society.

Crochet Art Awards and Recognition

Also from the bio:

“Miller & Shellabarger are a 2009 recipient of the Peter S. Reed Foundation Grant, 2008 recipient of an Artadia Award, and a 2007 recipient of a Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation award. Their work is in the collections of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art and the National Gallery of Canada in Ontario. In 2010 they showed a major selection of work at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Portland, Maine, participated in the Time-Based Arts (TBA) festival in Portland, Oregon and will have a solo exhibition in 2011 at the Illinois State University Galleries in Normal, Illinois. Their work has been written about in Artforum.com, Art & Auction, Frieze, Artnet, The Art Newspaper, Flash Art, TimeOut Chicago, and the Chicago Sun-Times.”

Miller & Shellabarger’s crochet work

Crochet artists often touch upon gender identity issues with their work. The medium lends itself well to this because of the fact that it is stereotypically (and widely) considered to be a feminine domestic art. When paired with more masculine items, a statement is made on gender. In the work of Miller & Shellabarger the sheer fact that two very masculine-looking men are crocheting in a public space makes a statement about gender and identity. Their crochet pieces don’t intentionally address the issue of homosexuality but the nature of their relationship makes it an underlying factor that sometimes affects how people perceive their work.

Untitled (The Pink Tube) – a performance art piece in which the two sit together and crochet an endless pink crochet tube, each working from the opposite end as the other. Learn more about this multi-year ongoing art piece.

Examples of their other work

The two artists work together in a variety of mediums. They also each maintain their own individual art practices. Some of their other shared pieces that I really like include:

Silhouettes – I love this series!
Monogram pillows with thread made from their beard hair

Examples of their individual work include:

Squares in ink by Miller
6-color reduction woodblock print by Shellabarger

What do you think of these working artists?


San Francisco based and crochet-obsessed writer, dreamer and creative spirit!


  1. I like everything — but to be honest the beard hair embroidery kind of gives me the creeps. Imagine collecting enough of it to work with — in a jar? a zip-lock bag? ICK!

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