Cary Beth Miller / Core Studies

Cary Beth Miller, Watkins College of Art

What’s your ritual to get prepared, or in the zone, to create?
Conscious breathing prepares me for any and all experiences.

Which artist, historic or contemporary, from any discipline, couldn’t you live without?
The writer Walt Whitman captures the essence of humanity. His work reminds me to connect with the world around me and recognize its beauty.

Tell us about a time you failed.
I was consistently a good student, until I went to college. Part of my identity was being an honor roll student my entire academic career and that first year at the University of Tennessee was riddled with failure. My GPA and my ego suffered immensely. I decided not to rely solely on what I had learned but become more curious about the subjects. Once I became interested in my classes, they suddenly became interesting.

Name the one place in Nashville you go for inspiration or rejuvenation.
Jackson Falls on the Natchez Trace.

What does success look like to you?
Success is measured by the impact we make on others. Success should be rewarding and not necessarily lucrative.

What advice do you most often give yourself or other artists?
Take a deep breath in and slowly exhale. Repeat. (Try it; it works!)

What book, film, or piece of music do you return to again and again to provoke thought or keep you connected to your artwork?
Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Why does art matter?
Art represents the truth and depth of the human condition and connects us to one another.

Which is your favorite course to teach at Watkins?
A component of English Composition II is an introduction to literature, which gives me the opportunity to introduce students to many wonderful writers and poets. I often describe it as a chance for me to introduce students to some of my “oldest friends.”

Which one quality do you think the world most needs from artists?

Teaching English at Watkins for the last 10 years has transformed the way Miller teaches writing and literature. Artists are storytellers and Miller encourages them to utilize the same creative and critical thinking in their writing as they do in their studio practice. Teaching artists gives her the freedom to innovate my course offerings and assignments.