Some people are said to be born too soon for this world; artist Brianna Miller may have been born about 30 years too late.
The 24-year-old Miller could be a child of the 1960s spiritually – she shares a passion for Cat Stevens music, and movies like Harold and Maude and the 60s-inspired films of Wes Anderson. She claims the works of 60s avant-garde artists like Andy Warhol and Yayoi Kusama, among others, as her main artistic inspirations. The Portland-based artist and graduate of McNary High School in Keizer also recently discovered the Moog synthesizer tones of Mort Garson’s 1976 album “Plantasia,” she said.
Speaking from her current home in Utica, New York, where today she is the artist-in-residence at the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute, Miller reminisced on her time with TEDx Salem last year.
Her biggest hope, she said, was “to create a piece that moved people.”
“I had a lot in mind,” she said. “I wanted something visually stimulating.”
Those who came out to TEDx Salem’s FEARLESS event last October 2015 will remember the uniquely colorful backdrop, evoking the polka-dot motif of a Kusama piece, that hovered over the stage in a constellation of colors to give the stage an iconic feel.
Through the piece, Miller hoped to encourage each viewer to face his or her fears, and continue to daydream, she said.
“Everyone took something different away from it,” she said. “That was one of my goals.”
TEDx Salem’s first-ever artist-in-residence, Miller had applied for the job on a lark, based on a friend’s recommendation, she said.
“I didn’t even know that Salem was a part of [TEDx],” she said.
Her experience helped her reconnect with the Salem community, she said, and also served as inspiration for her art career.
“It’s encouraging me to go even bigger,” she said. “[Being a TEDx Salem speaker] makes it easier to talk about my art.”
Since then, Brianna Miller has followed a similar path from Oregon all the way to upstate New York, where she serves as a Community Arts Education instructor and also works on her independent art project – a combination of printed media “zine” and installation of papier-mache that is “still evolving,” she said – that should be complete before summer of 2017.
She remembers her time with FEARLESS fondly. A quiet, soft-spoken person, Miller had to face her own fear of public speaking to share her art with the community.
“Talking in front of people is always kind of scary,” she said.
“My biggest worry was making sure I created a piece that was fitting to the theme,” she said, but “not too distracting.”
Before leaving, Miller was able to meet this year’s artist-in-residence, Kathryn Cellerini Moore. With the benefit of hindsight, she imparts the following advice:
“This is a chance to experiment and not play it safe,” she said. “I wish I would have done a little bit more. I think I was worrying too much, and got too much into my head.”
Get your tickets for TEDxSalem IV
Tickets are on sale now for Salem’s annual TEDx event Saturday, January 7, 2017. Tickets are $50, $40 for students. The all-day event includes talks, performances, refreshments, lunch and a swag bag. Follow us on Facebook for the most up-to-date news from our community, and check our website regularly for new information. You can also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.