In August 2015, I crossed The Pacific Ocean on The CMA CGM Gemini, a 380 meter long ship capable of carrying 11,000 containers. I was the only passenger going from Oakland to Xiamen, China. The trip took 21 days.

Artist Gabby Miller Journeyed From Oakland to China by Cargo Ship, KQED

Gabby Miller as Cross-Cultural Cargo, East Bay Express



We steered through The Great Circle across The Arctic, through The Bering Sea, sucked up heavy crude oil for the ship in Russia. As we curved down to warmer parallels, lights began to hover on the horizon at dusk. 

Aboard the ship and in the months following in Vietnam, I began  developing a new body of work that explores the geopolitical history, and current movement of goods, people and power across ocean lines.This project investigates the violence and power in the logistics of trade. The cargo ship plays an integral role as the vessel for departure for both refugees, and for goods, both historically and at present. In 1967 the U.S. government contracted Sea-Land Services to begin service from The Port of Oakland to South Vietnam.It is argued that the supply demands for Vietnam War catalyzed the adoption of container shipping globally.

This work was first show at Nha San Collective in the exhibition ĐI XUYÊN // CROSSING, with some new paintings in heavy crude oil from the ship’s engine, photographs, video and sculptural work.

In 2016, I continued this work during a residency at Random Parts Gallery in Oakland, in a project I called "Turquoise Wake: Coal, Air, Chicken & Shit.

This project was made possible with the generous support of Asian Cultural Council (ACC). 

Portraits from Home

The captain let me use the swimming pool room on board to set up a studio and exhibition before disembarking. 

Working on portraits while onboard.

"Portraits from Home" Paintings made in heavy crude oil and ink on paper. Commissions from sailors about The Gemini, to paint images of their choosing from home. 

Nha San Collective 

Some images from the exhibition in Hanoi made in the months following the journey across The Pacific. 

Installation of "Heading East" at Nha San Collective, 2015 


The Average Containership Goes 3/4 of The Way to The Moon and Back Each Year 

Dimensions of installation vary. This is a detail image of installation with 25 illuminated ceramic containers. The containers fit into the palm of your hand. Installed in a pitch black room on black glass, at about waist level, creating a three dimensional landscape. 

This work, along with the sculptural piece 609 Containers (1967) was produced in a traditional ceramic village outside of Hanoi. Both these sculptures were first exhibited at my solo exhibition "Crossing" at Nha San Collective in Hanoi, a few months after disembarking from crossing The Pacific Ocean by Containership. 

The Average Containership Goes 3/4 of The Way to The Moon and Back Each Year. Containerships use about 20 million dollars worth of heavy crude oil while traveling that distance. 

609 Containers (1967) + Portraits from Home 

609 Containers (1967). Ceramic, 2015.

In 1967 the U.S. government contracted Sea-Land to begin service from The Port of Oakland to South Vietnam. In November of that year the 685-foot-long ship The Oakland delivered 609 thirty-five foot containers. The ship held as much cargo as could be carried on ten average break bulk ships hauling military freight to Vietnam.

Supplies flowed in, the cargo backlog dissipated. “The port congestion problem was solved,”  the army’s history of 1967 declared triumphantly 

Detail of 609 Containers (1967).  Included in "Bizarre Bazaar", an exhibition curated by Mike Arcega at Root Division in San Francisco.