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Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Tom Miller had his life plan all sketched out when he came to Gainesville in 1984. It went something like this: go to school, get a degree in something and continue onward.

But that’s not how it happened.

“I felt this thing and just wanted to stay here,” he said. “I still feel it today. It’s a Gainesville thing; people who feel it know what it is.”

For more than 20 years, Miller has been a self-motivated artist and thinker with the goal of inspiring others to think for themselves.

Like most artists, Miller started young. He would doodle provocative, almost obscene, works on his school papers and was always sent to the vice principal, his father. 

But through the punishment he learned the power art has over people’s minds and how it can be a tool to create a reaction and interaction with people. But Miller isn’t just focused on the shock effect.

“Inciting a reaction is easy to do,” he said. “Just get a crucifix and do something weird to it … I’m trying to do something much deeper with the things I express.”

Miller also takes time from his own work to give others the chance to showcase their talents as part of his weekly Unspectacular Talent Show hosted each Monday at The Laboratory, 818 W. University Ave.

For his most recent project, Miller has gone back to school. He’s enrolled as a theater student at Santa Fe College, and is currently one year into a seven-year performance piece he calls “Professor Miller.”

His plan is to finish his degree at UF and go on to New York to receive his master’s degree. When he graduates, he will become a professor of theater, and once positioned as such, he will give it up.

The plan sounds like a total contradiction of what one should do with their time. But for Miller, this kind of contradiction is essential.

“It’s just for me. I’m not doing it for anything else,” he said. “We all like making it up as we go along.”

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