By Nan Price, Content Manager, MetroHartford Alliance
Ed Johnetta Miller is an internationally renowned artist and quilter and longtime resident in Hartford’s Blue Hills neighborhood. She enjoys being immersed in her community in Hartford.
ED JOHNETTA MILLER: I was born in Spartanburg, SC. I moved to Hartford in 1973 when my husband, who passed away in 2015, was offered a position at Trinity College. That’s what brought us to Hartford. It was between Jim going to Trinity or UMass at Amherst. When I visited Hartford and came to the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, I said It’s all over. This is where I want to be.
What makes Hartford so unique?
ED JOHNETTA: Whenever I’ve been out of the country it’s always so exciting to fly back into Bradley International Airport and land in Hartford. I love being home. I love traveling to other places, too. But wherever I’ve gone I realize it’s not where I want to be long-term. I can’t visualize myself living in any other city but Hartford.
People often point out that I’m internationally known and I’ve traveled the world. They ask: Why are you still in Hartford? With my artistic interests, they assume I would’ve moved to New York city. My response is: Why would I? This is home. If I lived in a New York city, I wouldn’t have ever been as productive as I have been here in Hartford. I don’t think I’d have the same kind of passion for a community like I have here in Hartford, either. It’s been so supportive. I have many friends. I have international friends, too, but the friends here in Hartford are like my family. And I just love being here.
About 10 years ago, I was asked to create a quilt for Saint Francis Hospital that included all the different ethnic groups here in Hartford. I got a chance to meet many amazing people from the Portuguese, Indian, and West Indian communities. Hartford has such a vast array of people, it’s a beautiful melting pot.
How has Hartford become a part of you and how have you become a part of Hartford?
ED JOHNETTA: Hartford has been a part of me because I reach out to my community. And my community reaches out to me. I love my community. I’ve lived in Blue Hills more than 35 years. I live in a very supportive community. Even during the pandemic, I’ve had cookies and fabrics left at my door from so many people throughout the Hartford community.
I feel blessed that I’ve been able to teach many classes at West Middle School, Noah Webster School, and many of Hartford’s high schools, because I’m a part of a teaching artists program through the Bushnell. I’ve also been working with the Upper Albany Neighborhood Collaborative for almost a year. They brought a program over to West Middle School.
Hartford has taken me under its wings from taking weaving classes at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in the 1970s to my work in my community to my church. When I give lectures, I talk about how blessed I am to be here. It’s been a wonderful place for me and I plan on staying there as long as I can.