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Creative Counsel

A corporate lawyer with a lifelong love of art hangs her airy abstract paintings at a Heights gallery this summer.

After press time at The Daily Planet, Clark Kent transformed into Superman. And after a hospital shift, nurse Diana Price became Wonder Woman. 

Oil and gas lawyer Cynthia Miller may not have a comic book series or a costume, but she has a secret identity. Almost every night, after leaving the Shell office in Downtown, she heads to John Palmer Art, a gallery and studio space in the Heights. She’s the latest resident of its Escapist Program, a mentoring fellowship specifically for working professionals. Here, Miller forgets about contracts and clients, and on June 28, she opens her first-ever solo gallery show, featuring her bold abstract color studies through July 25.

“I’ve been making art my whole life,” says Miller, 32, who grew up in an exceptionally creative household in Baton Rouge. Her mother was an opera singer, her dad directed music programs at churches, and both her sisters sing and paint. “This all kind of started because my parents wanted new artwork for our house,” she says. “They wanted us to make it, so they went out and bought a bunch of canvases, then set them up in the living room.” 

It worked, and while she pursued other academic interests, she never abandoned art. “There’s a perception that lawyers aren’t creative, but I don’t know if that’s true.” In fact, she sees overlap between her corporate career and her artistic one. Both, she says, boil down to relations and people. “Art, after all, is a business too.”

Though Miller started painting in her childhood, she has no formal training. Her show, Let’s Talk About Yellow, embraces that. It’s about letting loose: “I want it to be about fun. For me, having my paintings float out into the universe is really special. There’s a lot of noise and chaos in the world, and I want to use art as a way to step out of that.” Her canvases mostly begin with a base of white, splashed with bright acrylics. Sometimes abstract subjects can be identified — an animal, perhaps, or a beach — within Miller’s brush strokes and patterns.

She desires to make the point that there’s an artist inside everyone, and that talent is only part of it. “You have to carve out the time to do it, and then actually do it. We make promises to ourselves, but then we don’t follow through, and it’s really that last step. If you just show up and try it, that’s really the biggest piece.”

AT TOP: Cynthia Miller’s bold and colorful abstracts hang at John Palmer Art this summer.