Dr. Betty G. Miller of Philadelphia, PA was born to deaf parents in Chicago, Illinois. She is a well-known professional Deaf Artist who taught art at Gallaudet University for 18 years. She left Gallaudet in 1977 to co-found Spectrum, Focus on Deaf Artists. In 1986, she was an Artist-In-Residence at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) in Washington, DC.
Dr. Miller has participated in numerous art shows in Washington DC, Maryland, Texas, California and Massachusetts. She is primarily known for her visual representation of her deaf experience, some of which has been published in “Deaf Heritage” by Jack Gannon (1980). Her first one-woman show depicting the deaf experience and entitled “The Silent World” was held at Gallaudet College, where she was an Art professor, in 1972. In the eighties and nineties, she continued with her one-woman and group art shows, with a theme titled, “The Deaf Experience” which were held in Takoma Park, Maryland, 1989, at Gallaudet University, in 1989, 1990, and 1992; and in the Capitol Hill area in Washington DC, and in Chicago, Illinois, 1992 and 1993. Her artworks were also exhibited in a first of its kind in USA: a group art show with eight Deaf Artists whose art works were related to their Deaf experience, held at the Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill, Massachusetts, September, 1993.
Dr. Miller has become more interested in including neon lights as media for her artwork. She had completed a 16’x16′ neon artwork commissioned by the North Carolina Arts Council for the recreation center at the Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf, Wilson, NC in 1996. She accomplished a more recent neon artwork commissioned by a deaf couple at their home in 1998. Her most recent exhibits, April, May, August, and October through December, 1999, were at the Deaf Studies VI Conference in Oakland, CA, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression in Charlottesville, VA, North Harris College Gallery, Houston, TX, and the main headquarters of the National Association of the Deaf, Silver Spring, MD.
Among her influences she cites her father, the deaf artist Ralph R. Miller, Sr.; one of her art education professors (also an artist), Dr. Kenneth Beittel at the Pennsylvania State University; and Nancy Creighton, another deaf artist who “also inspired me in the past ten years.”
“Much of my work depicts the Deaf experience expressed in the most appropriate form of communication: visual art.I present the suppression, and the beauty, of Deaf Culture and American Sign Language as I see it, both in the past, and in the present. Oppression of Deaf people by hearing is actually cultural, educational, and political. Another aspect of my work shows the beauty of Deaf culture. I hope this work, and the understanding that may arise from this visual expression, will help bridge the gap between the Deaf world, and the hearing world.” – Betty G. Miller