Colette Miller Giving the World Wings
By Mike Ritchie
Colette Miller (www.facebook.com/colettemiller9?fref=ts) has been spreading her spirit and talent via the painting palate for many years. Creating her own work inspired by dreams, animals, life and other worthy causes she’s involved in. Since the early 90’s she’s painted animals on everything from bridges to walls to business trucks from Virginia to New York, California to Africa and Tanzania but the art that’s really ‘taken flight’ has been her signature angel wings https://www.facebook.com/colettemillerartist . There’s no bull in her ‘wings’, but they are in high demand across the world as everyone from tourists, locals, businessmen and celebrities want a piece of her brush stroke.
Her art has been influenced by many cultures including the Middle East, Europe, China, Tibet, Africa (where she painted a mural for an orphanage) and the Americas. She finds vast emotional, physical, mental stimulus and inspiration in the surrounding environment and her hand spreads the ideas across the canvas. She’s painted since childhood, making her designs reflect the peace of the composition’s subject and colors. The spiritualism used in its creation and found in its projection is a driving force in her desire to create a mystical remembrance.
Her angelic talent has caught the attention/interest of artistic minds from Kenya, West Virginia, Virginia, LA, Sydney and Washington DC with future work scheduled for New York and a recent trip to Australia commissioned by Arts Brookfield earned her seven spots at major properties in Perth, Melbourne and Sydney which were on display throughout October. A Nairobi Kenya boxing association named their team Koyale Wings Miller after her art.
The creation of her art can come from oil based mediums, or acrylic paint for the wings, on top of canvas, paper or wood with UV paint sunscreen, varnishes and sometimes placed on adhesive vinyl when pieces need to be removed. But there’s no limit to what she’ll use if there’s a need to expand. She also makes sure her work is durable so it’ll last outdoors against the elements.
She’s populated the world with around 30 pairs so far, from her current residence fittingly The City of Angels to the impoverished walls of Nairobi. She’s painted in some rough neighborhoods, intent to make her art instill feelings of safety and hope against the most barren and desolate backgrounds.
Her first pair was inspired from a need she saw in society to repel negativity in the spring of 2012 and by July she’d completed them. The collective message of each pair in part says “we can be angels in this world and the good in humanity.” They are at face value and in detail nice, pleasant images, unique to look at and full of abstraction and real symbols of peace. Life sized so people can stand between them and feel good about themselves, angelic, protected or all three. Her first two creations were graffiti art, though illegal, garnered positive attention from the community inspiring many to take spontaneous pictures with them and as more were made posting pictures on social media. After taking a movable pair to the Autumn Lights Festival and exposing them to a larger audience she was granted permission for a Main Street display by mutual friend Joe Moller via TK Nagano. She also received attention from the LA Mayor who came out, took photos and became a supporter.
Her animal art comes from oils and canvas and a meditative compensation she receives from her mind and life experiences as an impressionist. She characterizes herself as a colorist, letting the different shades harmonize with themselves. Her pieces include Alien on a Plane with Crows, Crows on a Fence, Flying Pink Pig, and China’s Hungry (Panda in a Bamboo Forest).
She’s also looked into the camera’s eye veering into editing and producing for projects on water shortage in Burkina Faso, eco-news in Tibet and sustainable fishing in Alaska. Also presently in post is a film on corruption in Kenya. She also paints sets for TV and movies in LA.
For those familiar with the band GWAR, Miller has early musical ties to the band of dressed up monster players and gore-fed, spewing noise makers. From 1986-87, she embraced playing Amazina aka GWAR Girl, after sharing the stage briefly with Heather Broome aka The Temptress, who left in 1986, she was the sole female in the group in the early days of the original band performing on stage. Working construction to survive, enduring mother-nature’s wrath and cold showers while the band was living in the old dairy plant turned warehouse, the Milk Bottle, in Richmond Virginia she studied/worked on art, attending VCU. While attending university she also played keyboards in MILK, a spontaneous performance art band with Jim Thompson, Ron Curry, Tom Harris, Mark Linkous and Dave Brockie aka the voice of GWAR, Oderus Urungus. Miller along with the others did double duty a few times when Milk opened for GWAR putting the GWAR garb on directly after. Later on in ‘87 personal differences caused Miller to leave.
Earlier this year in March Brockie passed away from an accidental heroin overdose closing the 50 billion year run of his alter ego and the sole original member, ending an era and leaving the bands future unknown. A private service was followed by a public memorial held at Hadad’s Lake in Richmond with fans, friends and former band members including Miller paying their respects, ending with a Viking funeral send off to the Oderus Urungus costume and character. Miller recently created a pair of wings for the GWAR tribute show in LA featuring rare footage, drawings, costume designs and band tour shirts covering the 1990-1994 era(Miller was in South Africa during that time) with photos by former slave pit girl Melanie Mandl.
Miller has very cherished memories of Brockie and the bands beginnings. Each era of GWAR had chapters and hers was the most vintage and less raunchy and bloody. She joked “I was in the rated G version” if that’s possible. She’s seen the evolution/reinvention of characters that have kept the band and its legacy going strong. He was and still is very popular and fondly remembered in Richmond as he is around the world. Thirty years later, she’s happy to see a female member take an active front stage, vocal position. Michael Bishop aka Blothar was chosen as Urungus’s successor accompanied by the first female presence since 2000, Vulvatron aka Kung Fu Dyke Kim Dylla. Miller saw the band for the first time in years earlier this month at the House of Blues and was impressed with the costumes and music. She also has a pair of wings in front of the venue.
Vulvatron and her large prosthetic blood spewing breasts made their debut this year at Riot fest in Chicago. The slave pit will never be the same. Though the two represent complete different era’s, Vulvatron as a strong, empowered female role showcases the ascension and prominence of women in the once all male dominated world of metal. It remains to be seen if all the scumdogs of the universe accept an Oderus-less GWAR and their new gor-i-fied reigning queen. Miller will always hold dear and sacred the original inspiration and spirit of what a ragtag bunch of art-school students started as an oddity in the mid-eighties in a cold milk bottle shaped warehouse that spawned and spanned a 30 year history.
Miller’s wings have become her trademark, recently transcending mediums into stained glass. Her next upcoming project will be a trip to Juarez Mexico for four pairs promoting messages of hope for humanity and it’s revitalization against drug cartels and violence. She’ll continue making them as long as there’s a demand, desire, need and a personal calling to create them while giving the world hope.