Art Facilitator – Prospect Human Services

Dear hiring decision maker(s):

Please consider me in your search for an Art Facilitator.

Making art has been a part of my entire adult life. After studying Commercial Art in high school, I enrolled in a BFA program at the U of A and then opted to complete an Art Education degree. Here’s a gallery of some of my early work and you’ll note that Bombus Terestris (1970), is adapted as the banner on my website. The annotation on the painting reads, “A colorful play on words emphasizing that the “bee” at the centre of our lives is, Being”, which references the spiritual nature of much of my work.

I continued to explore my interest in making art while teaching the subject internationally. Working in six different countries outside Canada, I taught art using the Irish Leaving Certificate, IGCSE and International Baccalaureate PYP, MYP and Baccalaureate curricula to students as young as four to adult. Here’s an acrylic on paper, Nadia and Friend (2004), of two of my students in Libya.

I’ve always worked at creating educational experiences based on the needs and interests of my students and the resources at hand. For example, while teaching Vocational Mathematics in the UAE and developing and awaiting teaching resources for a new school in Al Ain, I developed my students’ English skills and cooperative abilities through making a short movie, God is Love.

Returning to Canada in 2012, I worked with a web designer to launch my WordPress website highlighting my creative abilities in writing, photography, art, music and video production. One of my major works on my return was a quilt, Death from A to Z by Adam Lanza, Dec. 14, 2012 (2013), which raises the issue of gun control. For this project, I needed to learn how to work with a sewing machine, which demonstrates my lifelong interest in learning new skills.

Moving to Prince George, I completed a major outdoor installation, The Spirit of Prince George, 2015 (2014) for Timberspan Wood Products. This project involved working with a variety of power tools and a team of Timberspan employees. I have had an avid interest in working with wood, since junior high school. An example of my ingenuity would be the design of a large, plexiglass sheet attached to my small router (laminate trimmer) allowing me to carve larger areas of wood.

I’ve gone on at some length about my work to demonstrate the energy, ingenuity and enthusiasm I bring to bear in everything I do. I believe this is a vital ingredient in filling the motivational aspect of this role, whether it’s with clients, co-workers, the public or, in short, anyone.

My years spent working in group homes for the Prince George Association for Community Living (AiMHi) and Thompson Community Services directly apply to this position. My clients, young adults to adults, were dealing with a variety of motor skill or cognitive challenges, including degrees of autism, depression, schizophrenia and thoughts of self-harm. As a Residential Care Aide, I provided counselling and support; client recreation activities; medication administration; cleaning; budgeting; grocery shopping, meal planning and preparation and light maintenance in homes housing from one to four clients. Training included St. John’s First Aid Certificate, CPI Nonviolent Crisis Intervention, Foodsafe Level 1 and WHMIS. 

After completing the requisite courses through the Sauder School of Business, I worked as a Licensed Property Manager in BC, screening renters; showing properties; conducting move in and move out inspections; handling delinquent accounts; scheduling maintenance and maintaining databases.

Other relevant experience includes my editorial and public relations work with The University of Calgary, Nanaimo Free Press, Nanaimo Business Examiner, Canadian Forest Industries Magazine and T-MAR Industries. In all of these positions, my skills as a writer, photographer and designer were utilized and, during my time as a Journalism Instructor at Grant MacEwan Community College, one of my photographs, Spirit River White Cups (c.1975), was added to the college’s permanent collection.

Since moving to Edmonton in April 2021, I have worked in the custodial field, beginning in homeless shelters for the Mustard Seed Organization. For my current employer, Horizon North (a division of Dexterra Group), I’ve worked as a custodian in Alberta’s fire base camps and the company owned Iosegun Lake Lodge. Most recently, I’ve served as an Industrial Janitor, and now Second Cook, at the MEG Energy site at Christina Lake.

Safety and other training have been a vital component of my recent work. In addition to completing WHMIS for the Mustard Seed, I have completed courses in Health, Safety, Environment and Quality (HSEQ), Food Safe and Workplace Violence, which also deals with harassment, for Horizon North. For my position of Industrial Janitor, I completed Energy Safety Canada’s Common Safety Orientation and H2S Alive safety training courses and AMA’s defensive driving course. In addition to completing these online courses, daily “tool box” sessions were held, along with weekly department safety meetings.

The philosophy that I bring to my life (and to this position should I be selected) is one of overarching positivity. Love without opposite. While I believe no one is ever a victim, even if the opposite were true, it’s how we approach what we regard as our adversity that allows us, through our power of decision, to forgive and embrace. This philosophy has been developed over years of study of Eastern and Western thought as found in the Bhagavad Gita and Bible and in more recent works such as The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, Permanent Astonishment by Cree author Tomson Highway, the spiritual teachings found in A Course in Miracles and its supporting texts and, most recently, The One, How an Ancient Idea holds the Future of Physics, by Heinrich Päs. I am a member and active participant in Edmonton’s Interfaith Society for Education and Action. 

My return to Canada has exposed me on a personal and professional level to the existential challenges of a society searching for fulfillment, purpose and happiness in ways that have instead led to drug use, homelessness and despair. My belief that the power of the Human Spirit and the Divine are one and the same has led me to create a number of works works expressing that idea and my and my Happy Face Series emphasizing the overarching, timeless and eternal power of Love is one example. Instead of a Death Star, I created a Life Star. Believe Be Love, Teach Only Love,  and my music video, Brand New Song, continue that theme.

I’m not sure what resources are available but I would be prepared to offer basic art projects like drawing, painting (from a photograph, illustrated below) and wire sculpture; or more involved activities, such as woodworking, digital art using Photoshop and Illustrator; video production and working with WordPress. Perhaps a film? Or, of course, any other project that the group develops. The possibilities are endless.

One possibility is the production of Life Stars. These might be used to create a community-based display and perhaps be sold to raise funds. The prototype uses Dollar Store sourced nightlights and a “Disco Ball” I found at Value Village. Producing these would involve a lot of work skills, contacting suppliers and negotiating supply, budgeting, quality control, etc. Photographs and videos of the production of the piece appear below on the webpage version of this application letter.

In a more personal look at myself, I’ve faced my share of adversity and had some dark moments, but have elected to remain positive. I believe that power of decision belongs to almost all of us. I had my last drink in 2013, don’t smoke cigarettes or take marijuana or any hard drugs. I think taking drugs is a distraction, not a crime or moral failing, and favor the Portuguese model of legalized access.

In conclusion, when looking at the what’s needed to become your Art Facilitator, I say to myself, “I can dream and do that.” It’s my hope you agree enough to suggest we meet to discuss the possibility.

Yours truly,

James Miller