SPOTLIGHT ON A FRIEND: RICK MILLS
According to Rick, "The signworks blend art with interpretation and narrate the stories of place through the re-presentation of local visual and textual artifacts gathered through interviews and research." In a watershed like the Hackensack it is impossible to divorce human history from natural history and Rick's signs celebrate both. Each is a unique collage that presents information through comparative historic and contemporary maps, photographs and satellite images. Rick's intent is to use public art to help reconnect people with their environment.
Incredibly civic-minded, Rick serves on the Teaneck Planning Board, the Environmental Commission, the Parks, Playgrounds and Recreation Advisory Board and the Hackensack River Greenway Advisory Board. With all that, he still finds the time to be Professor of Art in the Art Department of the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University.
Last year Rick launched his RETURN OF THE BALD EAGLE PRESS which produces outdoor signworks, billboards, posters, prints, postcards, books and broadsides using both traditional and digital media that engage the politics and poetics of our Hackensack River watershed. The various projects of R.O.B.E. Press find Rick collaborating with local citizens, artists, historians, scientists, anglers and environmental advocates.
Rick was recently a presenter at the third international conference of Art Culture Nature at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. Additionally, he presented his work at the National Trust for Historic Preservation's annual conference in October 2001. Also last year, Rick was nominated for and received an award for HACKENSACK RIVER STORIES from The Waterfront Center of Washington, D.C. His nominator was Capt. Bill Sheehan.
His work is supported in part by grants from the Teaneck-based Puffin Foundation where he is currently working as Project Director for the TEANECK CREEK CONSERVANCY, INC. The Conservancy's project is to create a 46-acre nature preserve within the section of Bergen County's Overpeck Park that lies in Teaneck. When completed, the preserve will feature interpretive art as well as nature trails, restored wetlands, and outdoor classrooms. Under Rick's direction, the design team includes landscape architect Blair Hines and Associates of Brookline, Massachusetts and wetlands scientist Ken Scarlatelli as well as local educators and historians on the project.
Rick attributes his involvement with place – and in particular "the wet landscape" – to his first happy years in Bay Park, NY along a canal on the south shore of Long Island. We're all the better for his settling along the banks of the Hackensack.