PAULA JO (PJ) MILLER
Contemporary Abstract Artist 
Pagosa Springs, CO
   
I'm a contemporary abstract artist living in Pagosa Springs, CO. Formerly a nonprofit consultant,
I retired in Pagosa to pursue my passion for painting and teaching. Living in one of the most beautiful places in the world, I'm so grateful for my wonderful life. With that, I try (often failing miserably) to live by three tenets: Inspire, Empower & Serve.
INSPIRE

I come from a long line of remarkable female artists. The finest was my Mom who took her first painting lesson at age 60. That courage inspired me to create a series of interactive art classes where both kids and adults can learn abstract techniques and work with a variety of painting styles, tools and textures - all in a fun and judgment free space.​ In addition to teaching, I love to paint and my artwork hangs in galleries, busineses and in the homes of private collectors around the US.

EMPOWER

While living and working in Atlanta, GA, I spent many years working toward my  black belt in American karate, which involved full contact sparring. I loved it! During that time, I took a self defense course and eventually taught my own. Nothing is more empowering than having the confidence to physically defend yourself - or at least give it a good shot.  I teach self-defense classes for girls, teens, and women; for companies that offer the gift of safety to their employees; and for survivors of sexual and domestic violence. 

SERVE

I exhibit my work in solo and group shows around the country, often benefiting charitable organizations for which I'm passionate. I believe whole-heartedly in giving back to my community. Currently, I'm a founding board member of the Pagosa Springs Arts Council , as well as Beyond Words International (BWI) . I serve on the advisory board for Dog Lodge Sanctuary in Houston, Texas. And, I volunteer with numerous community organizations; including Humane Society of Pagosa Springs , Rise Above Violence , Rock the Vote , Seeds of Learning , and others.

Our Work in Refugee Camps

For six weeks during Summer 2019, I and four other BWI volunteers taught the healing arts at a Syrian refugee camp. Our intention was to offer non-verbal ways for the refugees to express their trauma and begin to heal. Art is a powerful tool for healing. This was an incredibly humbling and life-changing expereince, for so many reasons. 

After we returned, three of us volunteered at the US/Mexico border. We connected with Team Brownsville and formed a collaboration. We traveled to Brownsville, TX in October and crossed the border to Matamoros, Mexico every day to serve meals, deliver emergency supplies, and create healing art activities for 2,000 asylum seekers living in a tent camp.

As a representative of BWI, I do not take a political or religious position about refugees and asylum seekers. I simply want to lessen the suffering of those who deserve to be treated with dignity. Just like you do. Just like I do. I plan to return to Brownsville/Metamoros in early 2020, and I'll do what I can to help the thousands of asylum seekers taking untold risks to create a better life for their familes. 
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