Sarah Miller’s father gave her the book “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius when she was in college.
“It really influenced me throughout my life,” Miller said. “It’s been a good cornerstone for me in terms of meditative mind.”
Years later, Miller has completed a tribute to Aurelius — a solo show in the Catherine S. Eberly Center for Women at the University of Toledo. The free show, titled the same as Aurelius’ book, is open to the public, until Nov. 30.
Aurelius was a Roman emperor between A.D. 100 and 200. He wrote about living a simple life instead of being ruled by possessions, Miller said.
“I loved the book,” Miller said. “That’s why I wanted to pay homage to him.
“He’s my favorite philosopher,” she said. “He was one of the greatest minds. He didn’t think he needed all the trappings. He didn’t fall for materialism even though that’s what he was handed. So, I respect his lifestyle and his thought process.”
Miller came up with the series when she was living in Puerto Rico in 2009. Taking a break from teaching at the University of Michigan, she moved to Old San Juan to focus on her art. She owned a studio at the same time.
She got the inspiration for “Meditations” by looking at the coastline.
“When you’re there, the seascape is everywhere you look,” Miller said. “Because whether you’re going east, west, north or south, there’s the horizon and the sea. It was kind of emblazoned in my mind when I lived there.
Having never done landscapes before, Miller challenged herself.
“The other concept that I was toying with was the fact that we’ve become so technology-driven,” Miller said. “There is no tranquility anymore. I think that my paintings were trying to reveal a sense of tranquility.”
Upon returning to her hometown of Toledo, Miller contacted the Eberly Center for Women.
The exhibit includes a variety of mixed media art forms. There are acrylic and graphite works on cedar and mahogany panels. There are also black-and-white photos — 20 pieces in total, all by Miller.
Miller said one of her bigger hopes for the gallery is to debunk myths about contemporary art.
“I hope it opens them up to what contemporary art really is, because there’s a lot of misconceptions about art,” Miller said. “One of the biggest misconceptions or myths about art is art is realism. The role of the artist is not to capture reality. Art should be, in its highest form, innovative. It should be creative. And I think we’ve lost some innovation in our society, so I hope people will take a sense of what contemporary art can be.”
The Eberly Center has been a resource for women of the university and community for more than 30 years. The staff is involved in programming and volunteer opportunities, said Emily Hardcastle, community outreach manager for the Office of Equity, Diversity and Community Engagement.
The center highlights local artists usually three or four times a year.
“The Eberly Center for Women is excited to be able to host up-and-coming artists,” wrote Shanda Gore in an email. Gore is the associate vice president for equity, diversity and community engagement. “It fulfills our mission to empower women in all fields, including art, and supports their creativity.”
Miller said some people have recognized the tranquility she is hoping to portray.
“One of the board members said she might buy one for her office,” Miller said. “So that’s like the highest tribute if someone actually wants to live with it or look at it all day at work. It would give them a break from the grind.”
The gallery’s hours are Monday through Thursday from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, visit www.sarahsol.com.