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Center for Spiritual Care

Integrating Body, Mind, Spirit & Creativity

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At the Center for Spiritual Care

November 2021

Joshua McMiller
Revelations of Nature

Acrylics and mixed media
November 5-30, 2021
Call 772-567-1233 for inquiries or your appointment to view

 

Joshua McMiller Explores
The Dynamics of Nature

 

            Josh McMiller is an explorer by nature.  So it seems eminently reasonable that his show this month at the Center for Spiritual Care looks at what nature has revealed to him. 

            In Birmingham, Alabama, where he grew up, Josh was one of six kids, so the house was, as he puts it, “busy.”  To escape the hubbub, he would retreat to the woods that bordered his home.  “I was small but it was safe and I could be all by myself,” he says, “I would spend hours in there just trying to figure it out.” 

It was a world different from his and he not only saw it that way, he approached it that way.  It was a place where he could create his own universe. Different creatures inhabited it, coexisting side by side.  He was fascinated by the wildflowers and grasses, even the weeds.

The center of his new world was a stream that traversed the woods.  The movement of light on the water fascinated him, as did the reeds and the motion of their stems in even the lightest breeze.

People thought of me as an extrovert, he recalls, “but the truth is I was kind of introverted.”  He used his natural drawing skills to build a reputation among the other kids. 

“By the time I was in the third grade I was able to render faces and character pretty accurately and my friends really liked to have me draw them,” he recalls.  But things got out of hand. 

“So many students began to ask that I couldn’t handle it all, so I started to charge a quarter to control the numbers.”  Demand never declined and by the time he reached sixth grade he was able to charge a dollar per portrait.  

Josh knew he could draw, but there was no reinforcement in his professionally oriented family, and he did not take his talent seriously.  Still, he was getting other signs that art was more important to him than he realized. “I couldn’t identify with the culture of my highschool and it caused me some anxiety,” he says.  “The only place I could find relief was in my art class.”

Happily, he transferred to a magnet school where he excelled academically and which offered a very advanced art program.  His art teacher saw quickly that Josh had exceptional talent and nurtured him.  “She expanded everything for me creatively.  She just kept pulling out more.  Eventually she began entering my work in statewide contests and I actually won some of them.”

Nevertheless, when he enrolled at the University of Alabama it was in biology as a pre-dental major.  “My mother’s Ph.D. was in biology.  She wanted me to study science, and that was it.”

At the end of his first year, however, he had an epiphany.  “This is not me,” he told himself, and he switched to studio art.  Unfortunately, Alabama is not the South’s Rhode Island School of Design, and Josh became disillusioned.  When the unexpected chance came up to sign a modeling contract with the Ford Agency, he jumped at it.  And Life happened.  For years, ads featuring him appeared regularly in Vogue, GQ and Cosmopolitan among other publications.

Now, art became a refuge.  When faced with problems or tough decisions, he would retreat into drawing. “It would let me get my emotions out and would  clear my head.”  At age 27, he finally decided, “Art is who I am.”  He was living in New York, absorbing the pace and energy and getting it all into the work he was doing.  “It was as if I was actually putting pieces of myself into my work,” he says.  “When that happened, everything changed.”

Today, Josh has come full circle.  The world he is creating through his art is a nature-based world.  Nature still speaks to him, he says, “and it reveals more energy than the eye can visibly see.  My hope is to share this energy, to make the ordinary beauty of my world extraordinary.”                                       

-- Warren Obluck