This story was originally published in RVA 41 which can be in various locations around town, or you can read it right here. This is a slightly modified version formatted for digital distribution.
In the heart of Richmond, Virginia, a vibrant arts scene is thriving, and among its most prominent voices is Auz Miles, a talented interdisciplinary painter, muralist, and public artist. Miles’s journey is a testament to the city’s ever-evolving artistic landscape, and her work paints a vivid picture of Richmond’s rich cultural tapestry.
Auz Miles, born and raised in Richmond, embarked on her artistic path as a painter. Her early years were spent at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts, where she majored in Communication Arts with a focus on illustration. However, it was here that she realized her true calling – painting. This pivotal moment marked the beginning of her journey into the world of art, one that would lead her to become a prominent figure in Richmond’s artistic community.
Mentored by the esteemed artist Hamilton Glass during her college years, Miles found her way into the world of murals. This apprenticeship ignited her passion for large-scale, public art, a path she would wholeheartedly embrace upon graduation.
The essence of Auz Miles’s art lies in her profound connection to her surroundings and her dedication to telling the stories of Richmond’s diverse community, particularly through her murals. Her murals often feature women, characterized by bold colors, dynamic shapes, and intricate lines, reflecting the vibrancy of the city and its people.
What sets Auz Miles apart is her commitment to representing the underrepresented. As an African American woman in a predominantly male-dominated field, she acknowledges the challenges she faced, but she also celebrates the progress she has witnessed. Miles has not only broken through barriers herself but has also paved the way for other black women artists in Richmond.
Her work is a celebration of the resilience and strength of women, particularly black women, who have played pivotal roles in shaping Richmond’s culture and community. Through her murals and paintings, Miles highlights the stories of these women, giving voice to their experiences and contributions.
One of her notable projects, the Fresh Paint Exhibition at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, featured Miles as the youngest participant and the only black woman artist. This achievement underscored her dedication to representing her community and her commitment to breaking down barriers in the art world.
Miles’s recent work delves even deeper into the complexities of her identity and her roots. She is currently exploring the relationship between mothers and daughters, paying homage to the women in her family who have passed down traditions, skills, and values through generations. Through her art, she celebrates the role of women as the thread that binds families and communities together.
Her series titled Kindred Themes captures the essence of these connections, weaving together stories of love, resilience, and cultural heritage through a combination of abstract and representational art. In this series, sewing takes center stage as both a metaphorical and tangible representation of the rituals passed down from one generation of women to the next.
Auz Miles’s art is a reflection of Richmond itself – a city that embraces diversity, honors its history, and continues to evolve. Her work is not only a testament to her talent but also a celebration of the vibrant arts community that she is part of and hopes to nurture.
As Richmond’s art scene continues to flourish, Auz Miles stands at the forefront, weaving the threads of culture, history, and identity into a tapestry of artistic brilliance that represents the city and its people. Her dedication, talent, and vision are a testament to the bright future of Richmond’s artistic landscape.
Photos by R. Anthony Harris.