Imagine someone who drinks out of mason jars, listens to indie rock and folksy music, shops at stores such as Anthropologie and Buffalo Exchange, and is an avid vegetarian. You would think I was talking about some hipster straight out of a studio loft in downtown SoHo.
But, believe it or not, this person is Pinewood’s very own art teacher, Caitlin Miller. Miller teaches AP Art History, Studio Art, Humanities, 3D Art, Art 7, and Art 8 at Upper Campus. Hailing from a father who is a graphic designer and a mother who is a head of a local school, Miller grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, a small town that is comparably liberal to the Bay Area. Miller strives to translate the lessons and experiences from her life to her art and teaching.
“It makes a lot of sense why I became an art teacher,” Miller said, speaking on her roots from both art
Some people spend their formative years experimenting and exploring areas of interest and curiosities before settling on a true passion, while others waste their entire lives floating from one passing fancy to the next, forever unable to decide. But, some special and lucky people know their passions from an early age and pursue it to their heart’s extent so fully that they can’t help but surround themselves with what they love. This was true for Miller who chose a career dedicated to the proliferation, pursuit, and perfection of art.
“I always really liked making art [when I was small],” Miller said. “In kindergarten, I drew an awesome heart person where their whole body was made out of hearts and it was really cool. I also had a sketchbook I would always draw in.”
As a teacher, Miller hopes to tell prospective artists that “you can have a really big impact on somebody and I think that’s really special; it’s not something you can get in another job. I love teaching art. I think the path I chose is perfect.”
When asked if she had her absolute dream job, Miller smiled and said, “Pretty much.”
However, Miller isn’t one-dimensional; she has a plethora of interests along with her passion and love for art. As mentioned earlier, Miller is an avid vegetarian, as well as an amazing cook. Miller used to waitress in a cheese restaurant while she lived in New York, thus fostering her love for food and cooking. Some of her favorite dishes include pasta primavera, linguini with clams, and of course, anything to do with cheese (her favorite being taleggio).
Miller moved to New York after graduating from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting. There, she worked multiple freelance jobs along with her waitressing job while she earned her Master of Arts degree in Art Education. After working for two years as an art teacher at a school for children with multiple learning disabilities, Miller made “the most daring thing in my life” by dropping everything to move 2,500 miles to California with no job, structure, or plan.
“I had no idea what to do but I just did it,” Miller said.
But, everything quickly fell into place when one month later, Miller found a job opening at Pinewood for an art teacher and promptly applied. Once she was hired and joined the Pinewood teaching staff, Miller instantly fell in love with the close-knit community.
“I like how friendly everyone is and I felt accepted by both teachers and students,” Miller said.
Although Miller misses the vibrant city culture of New York, its convenient and efficient subway system, and the accessibility to art, both on the street and in museums, she absolutely loves California. Along with the amazing weather and slower and calmer pace of life, Miller still satisfies her desire for new art by taking the quick drive up to San Francisco and exploring the city or attending concerts at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. Just a few weeks ago, Miller went to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, a concert by the Grateful Dead cover band Darkstar Orchestra, and a tribute show of the afrobeat
musician Fela Kuti.
In addition to surrounding herself with art and music, Miller also enjoys spending time in the outdoors hiking or camping, shopping at stores such as Anthropologie, Buffalo Exchange, Goodwill, and Marshalls, or watching her all-time favorite movie “The Sandlot.”
“I loved [the movie] because I played baseball when I was young and it’s just a great classic movie,”
While Miller has certain unique and not mainstream tastes, she definitely doesn’t consider herself a hipster.
“When I think of a hipster, I think of people from Brooklyn, New York who wear really tight pants, bike everywhere, go to concerts but don’t dance, and look like they haven’t showered in three days,” Miller said.
While she does drink out of mason jars, it’s because she is thrifty and reuses any jars she buys. Her choice to be a vegetarian and her taste in music and clothing stem from personal preferences and passions, not from some contrived faux hipster fashion.
True to her independent spirit, Miller has wise words of advice for the Pinewood community:
“Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Be different, because that’s a good thing.”