Author Chanel Miller discusses her experiences of healing through art
AASU, PHA, WI, and KPU host New York Times bestselling author Chanel Miller
Author and human rights activist Chanel Miller spoke to the American University community on April 8 about healing through art during a Zoom event hosted by AUSG Women’s Initiative.
Miller is a San Francisco based artist and author of “Know My Name: A Memoir,” a book detailing her account of her sexual assault and subsequent court case that received national attention in 2016, People v. (Brock) Turner.
“I think the beauty of writing and art is that it sort of transcends the fact that I’m telling a story about sexual assault because now I’m letting you in on all of these personal stories and in order to really know me, you have to know these anecdotes that are equally important as this one anecdote that lives in the news that everyone knows,” Miller said at the event, after reading an excerpt from her book.
Asian American Student Union (AASU), Public Health Association (PHA), Kennedy Political Union (KPU) and the Health Promotion Advocacy Center (HPAC) co-hosted the event. The event was moderated by AASU Co-President Clarissa Cheung, WI Director Thamara Aridou and PHA Vice President Summia Mahmud.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Miller became interested in art. In 2020, her mural “I am, I was, I will be” debuted at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
Miller said she didn’t expect the mural commission from the Asian Art Museum. Art was a healing tool she began after her assault, and she didn’t think anyone would care that she could draw. She said the project with the museum was incredible because they gave her total liberty of what to do with the space.
Miller also responded to questions from the audience, including how writing has helped her stay committed to healing in a world that continuously works against that process.
In addition, Miller, who is Asian American, said she felt panicked regarding violence against Asian Americans.
“I think it is really easy to feel defeated if you're too present and you’re just trying to be super solution oriented in the moment, because real substantive change is going to happen over a really long time,” she said. “Here I am like six years after the assault, that's a long time. But yeah if you just keep showing up to the issue, you will continue to change and strengthen and learn, and write, and slowly you'll work towards solving that issue, but again, you have to be able to keep strengthening yourself to continue the fight.”