Guest speaker provides artistic insights

Crystal Ren, Contributing Writer

Art teacher turned full-time artist and children’s author Robin Miller visited several art classes and conducted a lesson to demonstrate the artistic process of a professional artist and impart advice to the students.   She brought in pieces of personal art and gave a presentation that included music and original poetry.

“There’s nothing like doing what you were meant to do in life.  It’s like flying effortlessly,” Ms. Miller said.  “Here, I’m speaking of my teaching and performing.  I’m in a zone.”

The talk was organized after several art teachers viewed Ms.  Miller’s exhibit in the Port Washington Public Library.  Ms. Miller’s presentation was part of a larger project about the Harlem Renaissance and each student’s family heritage, which was pioneered by art teachers Ms. Marisa DeMarco and Ms. Kris Murphy.

“We created this great project for a few of the art classes, based on the positive experiences of viewing the show,” said Ms. DeMarco, one of the event organizers.  “I thought she was dynamic, energetic, enthusiastic.  She’s a smart woman who has passion, and she has a lot of stories to share.”

Ms.  Miller brought in her sketchbooks and the materials she uses to collage to demonstrate how exactly she goes about creating her artwork. She went over the issues that arise while creating a piece of art.

“I like to share my own struggles with others, so that they do not become discouraged.  Struggle is an important part of the process,” said Ms. Miller.

The presentation has influenced the way in which participating students view their own art.

“I thought her presentation was really interesting.  Ms. Miller’s artistic style was new to me; I hadn’t seen anything like that before,” said sophomore Sameer Nanda. “In fact, its distinct use of shapes inspired me to look into my own background and to incorporate aspects of it into my own work.”

Others shared similar reactions.

“Her artistic style was very different and very inspiring,” said sophomore Carmen Kam.

Ms. Miller began her artistic career drawing cartoons, continued onto printmaking and collaging, and has most recently turned to painting.  She was inspired to be an artist by her father, and is driven by exploring her African American heritage and the Harlem Renaissance.  This focus on her culture is reflected in the pieces she creates and the children’s books she and her husband have published, called Rhythms of a Faithful Journey – Verses from Slavery to Presidency and A Humble Village.

“These books say that I am proud to be African American,” said Ms. Miller.  Her goal in publishing these books is to fundraise for African children.

Ms. Miller left the students with a few words of wisdom.

“You have to believe in yourself and you have to give it your all,” said Ms. Miller.  “No one knows what’s inside of you, but you and your maker.  No one will know until you express it.   You have to get it out of yourself for the world to see it.  Then it becomes real.”