Shansi Miller was born on the island of St. Thomas and immersed in the West Indian culture. She was influenced by both parents who moved to the Virgin Islands in 1960. Shansi grew up listening to music under the bell of her mother’s French horn and watching her father develop photographs in his darkroom.
The most pivotal time for Shansi’s development as a painter began with her formal studies under the tutelage of Tom Saint Vincent at the age of sixteen. Saint Vincent introduced Shansi to color study and fostered in the young painter a high level of technical proficiency. After a brief time at the Corcoran School of art, Shansi returned to St. Thomas to continue her studies with Saint Vincent, who remains her teacher to this day.
The richness of Shansi’s background, coupled with the relative artistic isolation of the islands have been formative to Shansi’s work. The paintings are stylistically distinctive and rooted in West Indian culture. Each figurative painting is narrative in nature, whether depicting an individual in a moment of introspection, or a group in richly layered interaction: Two women recline against each other as one prepares the other’s hair for a party. Three men play dominoes, the action arrested at the point one slams down the winning tile. A group of friends sit at table, their faces and gestures reflecting complex hidden undercurrents, rivalries, and attractions. In each case, the paintings reflect Shansi's fondness and respect for the vibrant culture which has been critical to the development of her unique artistic vision.
By D.C Hall