Today we’d like to introduce you to Christine Miller.
Christine, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a life long fiber artist who had a professional career most of my adult life. Since the 1970s, I have exhibited my work in juried exhibitions and juried art shows locally and regionally, like Cottonwood, Main Street in Ft. Worth, and the Brodnax Show. I started a cooperative fiber gallery, called Fiber Options, that was in Olla Podrida until that center closed in the 90s.
I then started a custom textile studio, Studio Textile Resources, with a couple of fiber friends and we had showrooms around the country (NYC, Denver, Salt Lake City, San Diego, Dallas, Austin) representing our handwoven fabrics, traditional custom passementerie tassels and fringes, and contemporary tassels.
I returned to school in the early 2000s to acquire an art education degree from UNT, and have been teaching high school art for the last 13 years. You can see some of my individual art and teaching accomplishments, along with some examples of my personal artwork at my personal website: https://artistteacherjournal.com/.
I created the website explorefiber.com to be a collaborative website that showcases and promotes fiber as a fine art material and helps support other art educators in bringing more fibers into their k12 art education curriculum. I am retiring from the classroom teaching at the end of this semester and returning to the studio.
I’ve been awarded a solo exhibition at the Texas Discovery Garden gallery in Nov. of 2020 and will begin creating a coral reef installation using a wide variety of fiber processes and techniques. I’ve been a handweaver for 45 years, and when sitting at my loom, I am most at home. I’m very excited to be getting back to my fiber art career, and am looking forward to LOTS of new work just waiting to be created!
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Although I never really lost money at my full-time art career, I never accomplished a real living wage with all the years of effort and change to make that happen. I felt like I got really close to grabbing the “gold ring” while riding on my carousel, but not close enough for my family to grown and thrive.
Becoming a classroom teacher was never in my plan, but after a mid-life crisis of almost “making it”, I went back to college at 47 to complete a degree in art education at UNT. My first teaching job (at age 50) was teaching for The School for the Talented & Gifted in Dallas ISD! I taught there for 4 years, as it became the #1 high school in the U.S. for several years according to Newsweek magazine.
In the 13 years of teaching, I was able to obtain my masters in art ed from TWU with a reimbursement program from Plano ISD. That would never have happened if I hadn’t jump on that opportunity. I have also won many teaching awards, teacher of the year at both schools, and state and national teaching awards. I never set out to be recognized, but I believe it’s my fearless nature of trying new ideas in the classroom that garnered the attention for recognition.
I have had many kinds of jobs in my life, but teaching is hands down the hardest profession I have ever known. Even with the apparent recognition, and teaching art which can be so satisfying, the struggles are real for every classroom teacher. It has been the most rewarding job and the most frustrating job.
Though I never set out to become a teacher, Explore Fiber would have never been born without the experience. Struggles birth new paths and new approaches. I am grateful for all of the struggles I have experienced, and look forward to navigating new challenges with a little more wisdom.
Please tell us about Explore Fiber.
Explore Fiber is the only site (not a brick & mortar business) that fosters a collaborative community of teachers and fiber artists showcasing and promoting fiber as an important fine art material in the 21st century. It is our mission to help k12 art educators as well as fiber artists in learning new processes and techniques for fiber art expressions.
I started it up with two art ed colleagues, but really, it has been my sole creation from the beginning. I am the little engine behind the website, curating fiber information for people to be inspired and learn from. As a lifelong fiber artist (who is in her early 60s), Explore Fiber TRULY represents my lifelong passion as a fiber artist, and (as it turns out) as a teacher.
As I retired from classroom teaching, I am moving into teaching fiber art workshops, as well as art education classes and workshops for professional development of art educators. That, along with my return to my studio practice, is a SUPER exciting development for a career that has been steady and true throughout my life.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Hmmmmmm…… found someone to invest in me? My last business, Studio Textile Resources, was active just before the web exploded. There will always be a what if? An aspect of timing and promotion. Having said that, really, I wouldn’t change a thing.
My life and career, though it appeared that I rand into SEVERAL brick walls ending a current path, would never have been as rich and varied if I had not had to make some hard left and right turns. I’m grateful for all of my experiences, glorious and frustrating alike. I’ve lived in the same house in Dallas for 40 years, and have deep roots in the community. I’m grateful that I have utilized the web for my new path, which allows me to take my passion to all corners of the globe!
- Website: www.explorefiber.com
- Phone: 214-354-5019
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @explorefiber
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/explorefiber/
- Twitter: @explorefiber1
- Other: https://artistteacherjournal.com/