Cari Miller—love Akron, love the environment

By: Qiu Jiang

Cari Miller juggles the roles of being a mother of three children, a writer, an environmentalist and an artist all at once, and is now working in her studio

Photo courtesy of Qiu Jiang, Painting by Cari Miller

in Summit Artspace.

The first thing that many people see upon arriving at her studio is an array of suns, formed into diverse shapes and painted in many colors. The suns, which are vivid and exiting, are a favorite motif for Miller. She has named her website “Sunthing Special.”

“I wanted to find something that has ‘sun’ in it, so that’s what I came up with,” Miller said. The dynamic of much of her art reflects this vibrant theme.

Miller was not an artist several years ago when she got her bachelor’s degree in Communication from The University of Akron. After that she worked as a reporter, an editor and a graphic designer.

Now Miller’s artwork spans various mediums, including painting, photography, pottery and, recently, t-shirts. Her ambition is inspired by the life of Picasso.

“[Picasso] did so many things during his lifetime. It’s very inspiring to see somebody who was good at so many things, for so long,” Miller said.

As a self-taught artist, Miller is not restricted by doctrine. When looking at some of her artwork, one realizes that she doesn’t depict things in their natural color. A giraffe can be green, people’s faces can be orange and a caterpillar can be many colors. Stepping outside the bounds of reality is one of the features of her art.

Although Akron is not her hometown, Miller enjoys being a member of the community. Her affection for the city shows through her works.

“I consider Akron my home. I’ve taken photos of buildings and things in different cities, and then I found, well, Akron has got beautiful stuff too,” Miller said.

When talking about Akron, she quickly becomes a storyteller who seems to know every aspect of the city and the residents. But when asked where she took individual photos, she will tell you, “Well, I don’t know!” That is because she always tries to forget the original scenes and gives new meaning to them. By removing the context from the photos, she is able to re-imagine them.

In Miller’s world, photos are not representations of literal reality. They are what she considers them to be. In her photos, you will find that many interesting things are hidden in parking lots, walls, ceilings and windows around Akron.

Although she doesn’t call herself an environmentalist, many of her methods are environmentally friendly. She often recycles things and turns them into art.

“I like people to read my works in two levels. On one level they see the object, and on the second level people try to figure out the materials I use,” Miller said.

Miller is planning to create a curtain from a bag of CDs, a rod and strings of beads. This is the new spirit of the artist: be creative, but also be friendly to the environment.

Miller’s artwork can be seen at her studio in Summit Artspace, located on the third floor of 140 E. Market St. in Akron, or at her website,