Colette Miller has spread her spirit and talent via the painting palate for many years, creating her artistic visions inspired by dreams, animals and life experiences. Since the early 90’s she has painted animals on everything from bridges and walls to business trucks. She has spread her canvases stateside in Virginia, New York, Washington DC, and California. Her talents were also requested in Africa and Tanzania, but the art that’s really ‘taken flight’ has been her signature angel wings. They are in high demand across the world, as everyone from tourists, locals, businessmen and celebrities want a piece of her brush stroke. Her angelic works in particular has garnered attention from around the world. Her next work is scheduled for New York. 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 in October last year.
Her art has been influenced by the cultures of the Middle East, Europe, China, Tibet, the Americas, and Africa, where she painted a mural for an orphanage. She finds vast emotional, physical and mental stimulus and inspiration in the surrounding environment as her hand brushes these ideas across the canvas. She has painted since childhood, making her designs and colors reflect the peace of the composition’s subject. The spiritualism used in its creation and found in its projection is a driving force in her desire to create a mystical remembrance.
She works in a variety of mediums, using both oil based paint and acrylic paint, which she uses for the wings. She paints on top of canvas, paper or wood with UV paint sunscreen, varnishes and sometimes adhesive vinyl when pieces need to be removed. But there is no limit to what she will use if there is a need to expand. She also makes sure her work is durable so it will last outdoors against the elements. She has populated the world with around 30 pairs so far, from her current residence fittingly in The City of Angels, to the impoverished walls of Nairobi, where the Nairobi Kenya boxing association named their team Koyale Wings Miller in tribute. She has painted in some rough neighborhoods, with the intent of having her art instill feelings of safety and hope against the most barren and desolate of backgrounds.
Her first pair of wings was inspired from a need she saw in society to repel negativity in the spring of 2012 and by July of the same year she completed them. Their collective message, in part said, “We can be angels in this world and represent the good in humanity.” They are nice, pleasant images whether taken at face value or examined in detail. Full of abstraction with a unique look, they serve as real symbols of peace. They are life-sized so people can stand between their angelic grandeur and feel protected. Her first two creations were graffiti art, which in spite of being illegal, garnered positive attention from the community. The original wings inspired many visitors to pose and take spontaneous pictures between them and post them on social media. After exposing a larger audience via a movable pair at the Autumn Lights Festival, she gained permission from Joe Moller via TK Nagano for a display on Main Street. She also received attention and gained support from the LA Mayor who came out and took photos.
Her animal art is created from oils and canvas. The inspiration comes from meditative impressionistic contemplation of her thoughts and experiences. 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 has also looked into the camera’s eye, editing and producing projects on water shortage in Burkina Faso, eco-news in Tibet and sustainable fishing in Alaska. Currently in post she has a film on corruption in Kenya. When she is not engaged with animals or wings, she also paints sets for TV and movies in LA.
Fans familiar with the band GWAR can research Miller’s early musical history with the band. During the genesis of portraying dressed up monsters, before the transformation into gore-fed, spewing, noisemakers, from 1986-87, she played Amazina aka GWAR Girl. After sharing the stage briefly with Heather Broome aka The Temptress, who left in 1986, she was the sole female. Working construction to survive and enduring Mother Nature’s wrath in Richmond Virginia, the band lived in the old dairy plant turned warehouse called the Milk Bottle. Waking to cold showers everyday while attending VCU, she studied and worked on art. 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 and company did double duty a few times when Milk opened for GWAR, putting the GWAR garb on directly after. Later in 1987, Miller left over personal differences.
Brockie passed away from an accidental heroin overdose in March 2014, closing the 50 billion year run of his alter ego and sole original member. Thus ending an era, leaving the bands future unknown. A private service with a public memorial was held at Hadad’s Lake in Richmond. Fans, friends and former band members including Miller attended to pay their respects. The ceremony ended with a Viking funeral send off to the Oderus Urungus costume and character. Recently Miller created a pair of wings for the GWAR tribute show in LA. The event featured rare footage, drawings, costume designs and band tour shirts covering the 1990-1994 era with photos by former slave pit girl Melanie Mandl. Miller was in South Africa during that time.
Miller has cherished memories of Brockie and the band’s early days. She will always hold sacred the original inspiration and spirit of what a ragtag bunch of art-school students started as an oddity in the mid-eighties. Shivering but surviving in a cold, milk bottle shaped warehouse that spawned and spanned a 30 year history. Each era of GWAR had chapters, and hers were the earliest, with less raunchy material and blood. She joked “I was in the rated G version,” if that’s possible. She has seen the evolution and reinvention of characters that have kept the band and its legacy going strong. Brockie was, and still is, very popular and fondly remembered in Richmond and around the world.
Thirty years later, she is 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. For the first time in years, Miller saw the band last year 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 at Riot Fest in Chicago last year. The slave pit will never be the same. Although the two represent completely different eras, Vulvatron as a strong, empowered female 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’s wings have become her trademark, recently transcending mediums into stained glass. Her next project will be a trip to Juarez, Mexico for four pairs of wings promoting messages of hope for humanity and its revitalization against drug cartels and violence. She will continue making them as long as there is a demand and desire, and a personal calling to create them while giving the world hope.
All images courtesy of Colette Miller
First posted at shortandsweetnyc.com