Lulu is our fourth featured 2016 artist in our second annual 7x7x7 Series, which asks 7 questions to 7 Charlottesville artists and published once a week for 7 weeks. Lulu works out of our WVTF & Radio IQ Studio Gallery and was a featured artist at our Spring Dinner.
If you had a free afternoon in Charlottesville what would you do or where would you go?
I would grab a sandwich and a beer and hike to the top of Humpback Rocks. Then I'd sit on the top. Reward myself with beer and sandwich. Watch the sunset and walk back down under the stars.
Describe your artistic work in 7 words.
Inviting. Emotional. Warm. Sad. Scicurious. Accessible. Whiplash.
Who or what inspires your current work?
Two Dope Queens. Sherman Alexie. Kathryn Schulz. Wayne White.
Consider one podcast you're working on right now. Give us a snippet of your routine--from start to finish, what goes into making it?
Come across a cool story that you want to know more about (from a friend, from reading, from reporting). Call people involved and start asking them about it. Learn it is not the story you thought it was. If it is more interesting than story you thought it was, pitch to your editor and team. If they are into it, begin to prep for an interview. Possibly book plane tickets to go somewhere. Prep for interview by talking to friends, family, and tremendously smart co-workers about the story. Get nervous the night before interviewing and decide you should quit reporting. Go to sleep. Well, try. Toss and turn. Check the Internets. Turn it off. Watch the moon. See it bob precariously though the streaks in the old glass window pane. Wake up. Drink a big cup of coffee. Review your questions. Turn them into a little comic of five pictures that represent the story you want to ask about so that if you get too nervous and forget everything, all you have to remember are those five little pictures (for example: 1) a little boy for the boyhood scene 2) a telescope for the getting into astronomy scene 3) a Martian for the believed discovery of life in Mars scene 4) a bunch of stick-figures with pitchforks for the "detractors" chapter 5) a gravestone with a question mark over it for what he went into the grave believing and a discussion about whether his conviction was a blessing). Take a final sip of coffee. Walk out the door. Press record just before you arrive. Fear swells impossibly high. Meet a person. Forget pictograms. Forget fear. Start talking. Learn cool stuff. Have questions. Ask questions. Learn about their world. Remember pictograms. Test your narrative on them. See where it diverges. Learn a thing you could never have imagined. Say goodbye many times. Walk out the door. Feel euphoric. Decide you have the best job on the planet. Go back home with tape and push it around, and add narration, and get invaluable edits and ideas from co-workers, and break it all down and build it all back and three to twelve weeks later..... you have A Radio Story!
What have you learned about yourself as a person through the experience of making art?
I am more strong-willed than I wish I was.
What would you like to see happen in Charlottesville to better support artists in our community?
More reasonably price artist studios and writer desks near the downtown mall!!!!!!!!!!!
What is currently on your studio/work desk?
A tiny air plant in a glass ball. Black bic pens. Blue bic pens. Pink highlighter. Blue highlighter. Scissors. A book about biodiversity. A book from a 19th century astronomer who believed there was life on Mars. An ethnography of homeless adults in New York City from 1979.
The opinions expressed in this interview are solely those of the artist and do not necessarily represent the policies or positions of NCAI.
Lulu Miller graduated from Swarthmore College with a degree in History. She worked making podcasts and weekly radio shows for Radiolab before joining NPR as a reporter in 2013. In January 2015, Lulu and NPR Science Correspondent Alix Spiegel created Invisibilia, a series from NPR about the unseen forces that control human behavior – our ideas, beliefs, assumptions, and thoughts.
Invisibilia interweaves personal stories and fascinating new psychological and brain science in a way that, ultimately, makes you see your own life differently. Miller covers stories that challenge our assumptions about how the human organism works—from the story of The "Bat Man" (a man who is blind and uses echolocation to navigate the world), to the tale of Martin Pistorius (who was locked in his body for 13 years but found a way to emerge). The radio program is available in podcast form and excerpts are featured on All Things Considered and Morning Edition.