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Grammy award-winning artist Bill Miller inspires elementary youth

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – Award-winning Native American artist and La Crosse native Bill Miller shared his wisdom with some young students Friday at North Side Elementary.

On what was once a blank canvas, Miller guided a group of students through painting a masterpiece. He explained that he sat back in his chair and told them his ideas, how to paint it, and what colors to use. He thought this tactic would end up being a valuable lesson for the kids, which it eventually did. The painting exercise was meant to teach the kids that there is more to life than what people see.

“I said, ‘Now listen, these are built on things. So here’s a circle. No, it’s an egg shape’. So I made an egg shape. Here’s shoulders like this. So I drew basics. I started with the basics and I said we’re gong to build. So I taught them how to build from little simple shapes from a blank canvas to a masterpiece.. That’s a life story,” Miller said.

The painting was layered with five coats of paint, which was another subtle lesson that Miller hoped the kids would learn. There are layers to everything and that they make a difference.

He credits the kids for their unwavering strength and capabilities. After sharing his life story to the students and staff the day before, he found that many students felt they could relate to what he’s been through. Miller wanted to show that anyone can overcome their own adversities. He hoped his wisdom and inspiration helped the students believe that no matter what they’ve been through, they’re capable of anything. At least, that’s what he hoped they’d understand through the painting exercise.

“We need to give credit to kids, our kids, especially the youth. These kids have pretty troubled lives and they’re making a master piece as far as I’m concerned,” Miller said. ” I’m seeing these kids who some people turn away and say ‘you’re a waste of time’. That’s wrong. These kids could be the next president of the next bank, or the next president… or they could be leading things or winning Grammys or whatever they’re doing, but I’m here to give everything I’ve got.”

Miller is a recording artist, performer, songwriter, activist, painter and native flute player. Miller actually grew up in La Crosse and uses his roots to his inspiration, especially when coming back to visit.  He credits La Crosse for all of his success.

Abigail Moore

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