Alumni Feature: Michelle Miles

Miles at the Sundance Film Festival


Michelle Miles’s (Studio Art 2019) extraordinary time at UVA was followed by a life-changing experience in early 2020—the Sundance Film Festival, where her experimental short film was highlighted as part of the New Frontier Shorts program. A recent graduate with a concentration in Cinematography, Miles relocated to New York City after graduation for an internship at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she contributed to inclusive design projects and coordinated tailored programming for visitors with disabilities. Additionally, she serves as a resident in Art Beyond Sight’s Art & Disability residency. 

Made during Michelle’s time at UVA, her film how did we get here? documents the process of mixing ink and soap, harkening back to her decades-old passion in painting. She told UVA Arts magazine in a feature that she “realized that this film was a sort of self-portrait, and in particular a portrait of my motor neurons, which control my muscles, and which, given the disease I have, weaken slowly over time. It became about trying to understand how my disability informed what interested me about this piece.” What makes community film festivals so unique is the opportunity to connect with the filmmakers in a forum setting. A panel called “The New Aesthetics of Disability” gave Michelle the chance to speak on her film as well as talk about her passionate work around disability and accessibility.     


film still from "how did we get here?"


While at UVA, she worked on V Magazine for four years—acting as Editor-in-Chief for two—publishing noteworthy items from across Arts Grounds and giving students a place to express themselves through writing, art, and fashion. Her support for student expression and creativity was also represented in The Gutter, the group of cinematography students enrolled in Kevin Everson’s courses. Reflecting on her time at UVA and with her cohort, she said “The Gutter taught me the value of community. Supporting one another is important.”    

When asked about what advice she would give students about being active with hybrid teaching and filmmaking in the pandemic, she answered “the impetus behind many of the projects I’ve embarked on has been an inaccessible tool or space. Now, a number of environments and activities are inaccessible to many more of us than before the pandemic. I urge students to find ways to use the barriers they’re facing as catalysts for creativity. Resourcefulness is a valuable tool.”