By Austin “AUZ” Miles, ART 180 program leader
ART 180 asked 20 past and present program leaders to showcase their work on all 160 GRTC buses, and I was one of the chosen ones. So many people ride GRTC every day. So many eyes will be taking in these pieces of art, learning about the artists who created them; and I am one of them. Being new to the ART 180 family, I was a program leader during the spring and summer of this year with Atlas. I feel so honored to be selected to represent ART 180, celebrating their 20 years of excellence.
My painting featured in their anniversary show features a young female bull consumed with passion, heading toward her future, yet looking back and admiring the lessons learned and experiences that propelled her to where she came to be. I chose to include this particular painting, titled Self Portrait, because it marks a beginning for me. It marks the commencement of my painting career. This painting was a turning point, that showed me a future as an artist really was possible.
Originally from Durham, North Carolina, I moved to Richmond in 2012 in pursuit of an “art life”, yet not knowing what that meant or what it entailed. It wasn't until the fall of 2016, with the creation of Self Portrait, that I began to feel that I had taken my journey down the right path.
One of my favorite things about being a part of ART 180 is having the opportunity to make a difference in the community. As program leaders we have a chance to teach young people and to be a positive, creative figure in their lives, even if for short period of time. Having my work on those GRTC buses extends that period of time. My hopes are that there is a young person, who gets on those buses everyday, looking forward to seeing which pieces of art are going to be displayed.
There are individuals who may never have heard of ART 180. Individuals who may want to be an artist, like me only a few years ago, and haven’t realized how to make it realistically possible. Then they step onto the bus, and are exposed to a Richmond artist who is sharing their story. Those moments can make a difference; planting a seed within that can grow into a beautiful creative outlet. I am so excited to be a part of those moments, helping to plant those seeds.