Emily Miller and I met at Brown Hall on the Pacific University campus to discuss her artwork, processes and inspiration. Although she works with several mediums, you may have seen her beautiful ceramic pieces at Perks of Art, where she’s been an artist since October of last year. Emily is heavily involved with the local arts and culture scene and it was wonderful spending the morning learning all about her endeavors!
Spending most of her life in Hawaii, appreciating nature has always been a prevalent part of her life and as she grew older, it evolved into a passion more along the lines of environmental activism. Emily moved to Oregon in 2014 to complete her bachelor’s degree at Pacific University and has been a full-time artist since graduating in 2016. It was at this time that she connected her two loves: creating art and being in collaboration with her environment.
Emily divides her time between 4 unique mediums: realistic and landscape watercolor painting, abstract encaustics, ceramics and machine-stitched ghost net baskets. While this is clearly enough to keep any individual very busy, she says she is more of a part-time artist and part-time small business owner; working to find balance between creating and clerical, she has developed a deep appreciation for both.
As we talked, she worked on an encaustic series titled “Waves” for a gallery showing next month. I had never observed this medium before and was in awe of the fluidity and freedom that came to life. Emily held a flat iron in one hand and a cube of sky-blue beeswax in the other; pressing them together, the wax melted and was transferred to a square sheet of poster board, mounted on a wooden frame. Performing this action over and over, with an array of blues, whites and browns melting into one another, the paper became a true reflection of its title, “Waves”.
Emily explained how with most of her mediums, she allows the art to speak for itself and while she always begins with a vision, ultimately a finished piece will have a clear voice of its own. She prefers creating series as opposed to individual pieces but says that across all mediums, there is an underlying purpose: to create a connection between nature and people. She says there is this euphoric moment when swimming in the ocean where you realize that you are, in fact, a part of the ocean; there is no division. Emily creates to evoke this feeling; to show others, rather than tell, the necessity of appreciating our natural world.
She has taken this perspective even further, by curating an interactive art installation in a Portland gallery where the community was presented with salvaged materials and asked, what will you do with it? How will you turn this ocean debris into something beautiful and purposeful? If this calls to you, the exhibit will be moving to Cawein Gallery at Pacific University, from October 7 – 31. As for Emily, she chooses to create machine-stitched baskets, but explains that the possibilities are endless.
Emily is truly an example of a passionate individual, making an impact by spreading joy and awareness through her artwork. It was inspiring to listen to her journey and her goals and I’m grateful she has chosen Perks of Art as a piece of her generous puzzle!
Learn more about Emily at: