Rueben Aaron Miller, a resident of Rabbittown, an unincorporated community north of Gainesville, was one of Georgia’s enduring self-taught artists, noted for his “whirligigs,” or metal cutout figures, and drawings, which typically feature animal or human figures and short inspirational messages. The best of his flat cutouts and drawn figures recall the expressive economy of such self-taught artists as Bill Traylor of Alabama.
Born on July 22, 1912, on the property where he lived for most of his life, Reuben Aaron Miller worked in cotton mills, farmed, and served as a preacher for the Free Will Baptist Church. When chronic eye problems began to limit Miller’s activities, he started making whirligigs to pass the time.
Miller’s work has been included in such exhibitions as Outside the Mainstream: Folk Art in Our Time at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta (1988) and Passionate Visions of the American South at the New Orleans Museum of Art in Louisiana (October 1993-January 1994). Further exhibitions, the inclusion of his work in museums’ permanent collections, and articles in such international publications as Raw Vision have contributed to Miller’s status as an elder statesman among Georgia’s self-taught artists.
In 2004 Miller lost his sight to an eye infection and moved to a nursing home in Commerce, where he died in March 2006. The month before his death, an exhibition of his work entitled R. A. Miller: A Tribute opened at the Brenau University Galleries.
DeLorme, Harry H. “R. A. Miller (1912-2006).” New Georgia Encyclopedia. 26 August 2013. Web. 27 September 2017