Restoring the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina wasn’t easy. A wood sculptor from Florida played a huge part in bringing back the coast. Eight years ago, what started off as a weekend project has turned into artist Marlin Miller’s life work.
“After Hurricane Katrina, the devastation was just massive,” Miller said. “I decided to carve giant oak trees along the coast. I turned the dead trees into animals that are indigenous to the coast.”
Miller, 52, knew he wanted to bring back hope to the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast, and his wooden sculptures were just the way to do it.
“It’s like turning lemons into lemonade,” he said. “The sculptures represent bringing back the coast after being so devastated. I’ve always said that mother nature puts the sculptures here and I’m just along for the ride. I like to go with the flow of the branches, and let it speak it’s own voice. I work very hard to not put detail. I try to work with the natural detail of the wood.”
In addition to his work on the Gulf Coast, his work can be seen in 12 galleries: The Biloxi Welcome Center, The Regional VA Medical Center in Biloxi, and on Bayou St. John in New Orleans. Miller’s also extremely involved with charities like the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, Bid For Life, American Cancer Society, and the Bayou Boogaloo Foundation.
“Last year I donated more than I made,” he said.
Over the years, he’s made plenty of memories. One memory that sticks out for him was meeting Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts. After carving a 25-foot eagle in honor of her Tuskegee airman father, Colonel Lawrence Roberts.
“I was standing behind her. My knees were trembling. I will never forget that Saturday afternoon.”
A proud past, but what’s new for this wood sculptor?
“I’ve been doing some utilitarian art. I’ve been incorporating my into things that can be used in the home. Other new stuff in my art…I put this coral in. What used to be a flaw is now a feature,” Miller said.
His life work doesn’t feel like work at all because of his love for it.
“You should see what it’s like when I’m driving down the highway and see trees. You know that movie where the kid sees dead people, The Sixth Sense, well it’s like that for me, I see animals,” he jokingly said.
Miller said, “I got a little bit of me in all of my sculptures. Neat stories with each one.”