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Painting Dorchester

Shantel Miller (’21) will use funding from the 2021 Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Award to secure a studio space and grow her body of work exploring the lives of people in Dorchester, Mass. Photo by Charles Graham

Shantel Miller was selected as the $20,000 grand prize winner of the 2021 Esther B. and Albert S. Kahn Career Entry Award for emerging artists. When the Toronto native came to CFA to pursue an MFA, she moved in to an all-Christian women’s house in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. Soon, she began a series of paintings exploring the lives of the people she met in church and around the neighborhood.

The Ultimate Gift, 2019-2021, oil on canvas, 72×48 in. The painting is from a series exploring the lives of the people Miller met in church and elsewhere around Dorchester. Photo by Julia Featheringill

“It was my first time living in a Black neighborhood, and I felt like I was home in a sense,” Miller (’21) says. “People felt familiar. I also experienced a renewed sense of interconnectedness in my life, a new sense of spirituality—just being inspired wherever I went.”

Miller is using the funds from the award to secure a studio space and purchase supplies in order to expand her body of work. She plans to visit various Black churches and create portraits and figurative paintings inspired by what she sees. Her project will also include historical research on the congregations.

Read more about Miller and her work in this BU Today article.