Anthony Miller, Art is a Universal Language

Blog Entry: March 6, 2018

For me, art is a universal language. It can be created by anyone and enjoyed by everyone. It can be grand, theatrical, and flashy or it can be quiet, intimate, and private. It brings joy, gives us hope, comforts us in grief, and takes us through a range of emotions. It can be preserved in museums or professionally delivered on stage, but it is also at our dinner tables, in our schools, on our commute to work, and in our ear buds. It’s all around us. On some level we are always engaging with or celebrating art. We are all feeling the wonderful influence of creativity and inspiration on a daily basis. And I cannot feel more privileged to help the New Orchestra of Washington (NOW) to build a community around this good feeling we all feel.

But I’ve gotten ahead of myself. I’m not your typical art enthusiast. Art has always been in my life, but my talents have always been far behind my ambition! As a child I played trumpet and felt so proud to perform Star Wars, but a 5th grade concert was probably my peak. I tried learning guitar, but my mom found out that my guitar teacher was actually teaching me how to pretend to practice, rather than actually play. I sang in a church children’s choir, but these days I shouldn’t be allowed to sing anywhere other than inside my car as I’m blasting the radio. When it came to art class in school, my parents said any grade was fine, despite expecting A’s elsewhere – they just knew I didn’t have the magic touch. I tried my hand at theater, on stage in middle school, but I got the hint when they moved me off stage and into sound production in high school. I had a knack for writing once winning a poetry competition and becoming professional journalist, but it couldn’t keep my interest.

Despite the realization of my own artistic limitations, my enthusiasm and energy for art hasn’t faded. I still marvel at paintings. I keep a list of classic literary novels that I’m working my way through on my kindle. My wife, Leslie, is a hobby photographer and we create a dynamic duo with nature’s landscapes, trading the lens and explaining the next best shot to take.  Music for me ranges from listening to a NOW concert to an iconic movie score to 80’s hair band metal to top billboards country music to 90’s alternative rock. I just cannot get enough art in my life, so I’m always finding new ways to infuse art into my daily life.

And while I have this passion, this energy I find that my peers, and most everyone, really, seems reluctant to engage in a community based on art. I find people saying “well I’m not an artist” or “I love art but I’m not a nobel prize poet” or “Music is everything to me, but I cannot play so I probably wouldn’t join an art group.” We hold art in such high esteem that we exclude ourselves from the very company we want to be keeping – that of artists and people who love art! Here we have this beautiful, inspiring, creative force and we hesitate to celebrate it with other people because we feel we need to be a piano virtuoso in order to be admitted to a conversation.

I’m so excited to be a part of this Arts Matter initiative. It’s energizing to just be myself – a guy running a tech company who doesn’t play, can’t act, can’t sing but who LOVES art – and to find such a beautiful and supportive community with NOW.

I hope that this can be the start of a movement. That our sheer love of art will manifest a community who comes together to share their stories of who they are, how they celebrate/engage with art and what art means to them.

We can use art to build a community that believes diversity, intersectionality, and inclusion are basic tenants of human decency, universally acknowledged and accepted. We can use art as our language to connect with one another, to embrace one another, and to lift each other up.

Together we will build something incredible.