Visual artist Bob H. Miller recently conducted workshops for students at St. Joseph’s Indian School as part of the South Dakota Arts Council’s Artists in Schools & Communities program.

“We worked with fluorescent colors and black light,” said Miller. “I discovered fluorescent paint when I was in high school and enjoyed working with it very much.”

Lakota students look at their art work under a black light. Under the black light, the drawing takes on a whole new character.

“The students have really taken off with this project,” said Dave, St. Joseph’s art teacher. “The ‘glowing’ quality of the fluorescent paint and highlighters lends an extra element to the project that is really inspirational. We’ve seen paintings of shooting stars, fireworks and fireflies - things that move and glow in nature.”

After an introduction to fluorescence using highlighters, the students’ second project of the week turned to pointillism. This technique uses small, distinct dots in a pattern to create a larger image.

“Several students have made a connection between the dot patterns in their paintings and traditional Lakota (Sioux) beadwork,” said Dave. “When they’re ready to view their work under the black light, you hear the same simultaneous oohs and ahhs you hear watching real fireworks. It’s been a lot of fun.”

St. Joseph's students work on their paintings. Seventh-grade students work on their fluorescent paintings.

“Beyond any kind of instruction, I hope I can help students enjoy making art,” Miller said. “When I begin a residency, I don’t want students to be so concerned about doing it ‘right’ that they can’t have fun.”

Miller has worked with South Dakota students for more than 30 years through the Artists in Schools & Communities program. His work has been featured in regional and international exhibits as well as magazines.

This program is sponsored by St. Joseph’s Indian School, with support provided by the South Dakota Arts Council with funds from the State of South Dakota, through the Department of Tourism and State Development, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


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