Dubai: After traumatic injury, expat gets full eyesight back by creating art

Her geometric designs have adorned Islamic prayer spaces throughout the UAE and beyond



by

Ashwani Kumar

Published: Wed 21 Dec 2022, 7:40 PM

After suffering a severe brain injury in 2020 that impacted her eyesight, Dubai-based American expat Audrey Miller used the healing power of art therapy to improve her brain-eye-hand coordination. Along the way, she has created a distinctive 51-piece digital fine art collection celebrating the UAE.

Titled ‘Always Ahead’, the collection has been inspired by Miller’s love for the Emirates. The artworks have been put up for sale, with a portion of the proceeds set to go to The Reach Campaign, a UAE-based fundraising initiative that aims to end neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

Miller has always loved art, but it was losing her mother at the age of 6 that had a deep impact on her creativity, leading her to design a fashion line at age of 11, and have her art displayed in local museums by 17.

Her fascination with ancient civilisations led her to discover Islamic art. She studied interior design, and later set up her own firm in the US before moving to Syria in 2008 and Dubai in 2011, where she continued her art and design career. Miller became the project coordinator for the Private Office of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai.

A Muslim convert, she has been living in Dubai as a single mother to six children. Her geometric designs have adorned Islamic prayer spaces throughout the UAE and beyond.

However, a traumatic brain injury in 2020 set her back as it reduced her eyesight, and it was only by January 2021 that she set out on a recovery path through art.

“In late 2020, I suffered a sudden traumatic brain injury. As the mountains of medication had minimal impact on my recovery, I looked for alternative healing methods and discovered that art could help. I upgraded my design technology and began creating. Art therapy helped me reignite my brain-eye-hand coordination, helping my tremors subside. Colours became clear again. I then decided to pursue a bigger project, leading to the creation of this collection,” Miller said.

Her creation celebrates 51 years of the UAE’s formation, its monuments, and key moments in history — from the 1971 Union to the launch of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Library this year.

“While the inspiration for the collection comes from my love and awe of what the UAE has achieved over the past 51 years, the country is also home to a number of humanitarian initiatives that are just as inspiring, such as the Reach Campaign.”

She will be offering a portion of proceeds from her artworks' sale to the Reach Campaign – the UAE’s initiative to end two NTDs, river blindness and lymphatic filariasis.

The campaign seeks to continue a journey of philanthropy that started with the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

“I am proud to be donating 10 per cent of all proceeds to the Reach Campaign and grateful for the charitable support it provides. As someone who has personally experienced reduced eyesight because of a traumatic brain injury, I know how important access to healthcare is. Reach is a proud demonstration of how the UAE is making a real difference around the world and I’m honoured to be able to contribute towards it, both financially and by helping raise awareness.”

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The collection is designed in Miller's signature style ‘neo-patternism’ with subjects elusively hidden in plain sight.

“My goal with this collection is to introduce a new type of aesthetic design, confuse viewers with an impalpable sense of familiarity, and then surprise them by finally revealing the subjects which are being celebrated.”

A web-based viewer using AI technology lets collectors reveal the hidden subjects. Each piece is accompanied by a digital collectible – non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that let collectors certify the authenticity of their physical pieces. The collection can be found at www.alwaysahead.ae.

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