Welcome to North Atlantic Fiber Arts. This artistic endeavor is my heart project and likely my remaining life's work.
My name is Elizabeth Miller.
When I was five or six years old I wrote a short story called "The Foggy Frog," replete with pencil and crayon illustrations. I knew that I wanted to be a creative that early, maybe earlier, but a lot of dysfunction, negative messaging, fear around money (the "starving artist" trope), and people pleasing got in the way. I graduated from the University of Delaware with a degree in Business Administration/Marketing in 1988 and continued on a path of relatively non-creative diversions, with the exception of raising four beautiful sons, for most of my life.
I will be fifty-eight years old in June of 2023. I'm a realist. It's too late for a lot of things. It's never too late to be creative. Everyone is creative. I believe that in my bones, preach it to my fiber art students, make it a mantra to myself when conditioning and its result, imposter syndrome, creep up on me.
In the course of reading this blog journal over time, you will learn a lot about me but hopefully what I write leads to your learning more about yourself, perhaps asking the hard questions about your own creative direction and what conditioning you too need to strip away to find your own unique expression.
My nascent fiber art work is inspired by the powerful landscapes and seascapes of Maine and Nova Scotia. My work and overflowing sketchbook also addresses themes of motherhood, family of origin dysfunction and trauma, environmental issues, feminism, and the plague of populist nationalism that afflicts the United States and may ultimately threaten Canada as well.
I am the descendant of Italian immigrants who arrived here early in the twentieth century via Ellis Island, New York City. I am also the descendant of English settlers who arrived early in the seventeenth century in coastal Massachusetts. I consider both ancestors equally American. I also acknowledge that all of their descendants in America, myself included, reside on stolen land. I currently live on the unceded land of the Wabanaki and Abenaki people. I say this not to be "woke" or virtue signaling. I say this to put in perspective the white nationalist movement that is alive and well in my country and even in my extremely northern state and that is driving some of my current sketch journaling. Sometimes when we don't know how to solve a thing, art can be a first line of at least getting it in front of people.
It's taken me a long time to call myself an artist. Calling myself a writer got nailed down when I published my first book, with a commercial publisher, in 2021, but calling myself an artist is still not quite seated in my psyche. I'm making progress with myself on that. I exhibited my work for the first time in 2022 at Rug Hooking Week at Sauder Village and will be exhibiting work in a show at the Virginia Quilt Museum in 2023, thanks to West Virginia artist Susan Feller (Artwools) who is curating that exhibit. My hooked art piece, "Breaking the Cycle," also appeared in Canadian artist Karen D. Miller's breathtaking book, The Art of Mothering: Our Lives in Colour and Shadow. You will find my exhibiting information, past and present, on the "Exhibits" tab of this website.
Today's blog image is my work in process, "Bring It Up Alive" which addresses the necessity to raise and process our own individual and collective traumas. The diving loon, inspired by so many observations of these magnificent birds on the lakes here in Maine, represents the deep dive we need to take to bring up that "prey" and handle it. Maine pine tassels also figure into the design because Maine's natural environment has been, and continues to be, a catalyst of both grounding and healing for me. Perhaps paradoxically, it's hard to feel truly lost in the woods, on a mountain, or on the rocky coastline of Maine. It's more often where I am truly found.
I hope you'll follow along. Contrary to the tone of this introduction, there will also be light blog posts, funny ones, and informational posts with exhibit notifications and reviews, book recommendations, and more. I'm looking forward to meeting you in this space.