Joseph Clayton Mills is an artist, composer, and performer working at the intersection of language, composition, and archival practice. His text-based paintings, assemblages, and sound installations have been exhibited in the United States and Europe, including at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, the Lincoln Park Conservatory, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and his work has appeared in numerous publications, including The New Yorker. A former Chicagoan, he remains an active participant in the improvised and experimental music community there, where his collaborators have included Adam Sonderberg and Steven Hess (as Haptic), Michael Vallera (as Maar), Noé Cuéllar (as Parital), Marvin Tate, Michael Pisaro, and Olivia Block, among many others. His recordings have appeared on numerous labels, including Another Timbre, FSS, and Entr’acte, and in 2013 in he launched Suppedaneum, a label focused on releasing scores and their realizations. He has received commissions and grants from the Chicago Film Archive, Black Cinema House (Rebuild Foundation), the Illinois Arts Council, the Experimental Sound Studio, and, in 2016, was artist in residence at the Sonic Arts Research Unit at Oxford Brookes University, UK.


Joseph Clayton Mills (b. 1971, US)


Northwestern University, MA 1999

University of Chicago, BA 1993



Solo Exhibitions      


2019       Voice Crossing (Art Kiosk, Redwood City, CA)


2018       Composition/Decomposition: Texts, Erasures, and Scores (Fletcher Library, Arizona State University, Glendale, AZ)


2012       The Patient (Audible Gallery, Experimental Sound Studio [ESS], Chicago, IL)


2011       Efface/expunge/erase/delete (Schlössli, Basel, Switzerland)


2011       ConText (Regenstein Library, University of Chicago, Chicago, IL)


2007       Echographs (Elastic Arts, Chicago, IL)


2007       Annie Laurie (cytO Gallery, Chicago, IL)


2006       Last Words (cytO Gallery, Chicago, IL)


2005       Joseph Clayton Mills: New Works (Filter, Chicago, IL)


2005       The Writer (Myopic Books, Chicago, IL)



Selected Group Exhibitions, Installations, and Museum Performances



2021       Illuminate Coral Gables (The Passage, video and audio installation, Coral Gables, FL)


Audiograft Festival of Experimental Music and Sound Art (short films, Oxford, UK)


2018       Creating Home (audio for installation by Megan Rodgers, Schusev State Museum of Architecture, Moscow, Russia)


2017       Ten X Ten (curated by ESS, Homeroom, and Spudnik Press, Chicago, IL)


2016       Run for President/The Conjured Life w/Haptic (Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL)


2016       Fourth Horizon (audio for installation by Susy Bielak/Fred Schmalz, ESS, Chicago, IL)


2015       Reductive : Four (Hundred Years Gallery, London, UK)


2015       Abeyance w/Haptic (Lincoln Park Conservatory, Chicago, IL)


2011       Surface Tension (Robert Wright Gallery, College of Lake County, Grayslake, IL)


2011       Laughter and Tears w/Olivia Block and Lou Mallozzi (Pritzker Pavillion, Millennium Park, 

2011       Chicago, IL)


2011       Three plus three w/Haptic (Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL)


2010       Exhibition in a package (Public Surface, Stockholm, Sweden)


2010       Requiem w/Annie Feldmeier Adams, Steven Hess, Brendan Burke (Lincoln Park 

2010       Conservatory, Chicago, IL)


2009       Triptych w/Haptic and Lisa Slodki (Museum of Contemporary Art, 12 X 12 Gallery, 

2009       Chicago, IL)


2009       Fields have Ears (The Cube, Bristol, UK)


2007       Five Senses (Northbrook Public Library, Northbrook, IL)


2006       Spectacle Lunatique (Redmoon Theater Company, Chicago, IL)




Residencies, grants, and awards


2016       Sonic Arts Research Unit (Oxford Brookes University, Oxford, UK)


2014       Illinois Arts Council Grant (to ESS for collaboration between Joseph Clayton Mills 

2014       and Marvin Tate)


2011       Experimental Music Workshop (CalArts, Valencia, CA)


2008       Community Arts Assistance Program grant


2006       Community Arts Assistance Program grant






2018       Syllables (for Mike Weis) (performed by Slow Bell Trio, Constellation, Chicago, IL)


2017       Pieces for Strings (performed by Stephen Chase, Patrick Farmer, Ryoko Akama, Sheffield, UK)


Corvus corax (commissioned for the 2nd Annual Festival of Poets Theater, Sector 2237, 

2017       Chicago, IL)


2016       Vessels (Bang the Bore, The Cube, Bristol, UK)


2015       The Patient (UK premiere; Church of St. John the Evangelist, Oxford, UK)


2014       Table I (performed by Billie Howard, Sector 2237, Chicago, IL)


2014       Mourning Piece, second variation (commissioned for the Experimental Music Yearbook; 

2014       performed by Ben Owen, New York, NY)


2012       The Patient (commissioned for Outer Ear Festival, ESS, Chicago, IL)


2010       H (with Noe Cuellar and Carol Genetti; commissioned by Jessica Turcios for Pay No 

2010       Attention to the Man behind the Curtain, Chicago, IL)






College of Lake County (Grayslake, IL)


Private collections in Chicago, New York, Basel, Los Angeles, London, and elsewhere.




Selected Bibliography


Akiwowo, Nola. Joseph Clayton Mills: Mixed Media Artist Explores the Dark Side of His Subjects. Centerstage Chicago. August 13, 2007.


Bolaño, Roberto. The Meeting with Enrique Lihn (illustration). The New Yorker. December 22, 2008.


Chauveau, Sylvain. Down to the Bone (cover). Nature Bliss, 2007.


Cristal: Homegoing (cover). FSS, 2010.


Fred Lonberg-Holm Quartet: Bridges Freeze Before Roads (cover). Longbox, 2006. 


Lely, John, and James Saunders. Word Events: Perspectives on Verbal Notation.  London: Continuum, 2012.


Mallozzi, Lou. Seeing Mills through Barthes reading Kafka exacting (catalog). ESS, 2012.


Meyer, Bill. Haptic: Chicago Trio Employs Shifting Aesthetics in Pursuit of the Ineffable. Signal to Noise 63:8. Spring 2012.


Mills, Joseph. Piano’s Grand Opus. Log: Observations on Architecture and the Contemporary City. 18; Winter 2010.


Mills, Joseph Clayton. Zyxt. London: Entr’acte, 2010.


———. Eighty-eight Keys. Wolf Notes 1.  Oxford: Compost and Height, 2011.


———. Notes on The PatientWolf Notes 8. Oxford: Compost and Height, 2015.


———. Meridian. Reductive Journal 4. Huddersfield, UK: Reductive Music, 2015.


———. Figures and Ground. In Lou Mallozzi 1:1. Chicago, IL: Sector 2337, 2018.


Mills, Joseph Clayton, and Kate KozhukohvaNabokrossvords: Selected Puzzles from the Russian ÉmigréNewspaper Rul, 1924—1926. Chicago: Sibilance, 2012.


Mills, Joseph Clayton, and Marvin Tate. The Process. Reductive Journal 2. Huddersfield, UK: Reductive Music, 2015.


SeidewitzRyn. Improvised Interruption: Joseph Clayton Mills’s Experimental Sound. South Side Weekly. December 3, 2014.