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 Lev Timothy Mills  (1938 - )

About: Lev Timothy Mills


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Lived/Active: Georgia/Florida      Known for: printmaking, painting, mural, design, sculpture, art education

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Lev Mills (1938-)

Lev Timothy Mills realized his artistic talent as a senior at University High, the demonstration high school of Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.  His first oil painting, Seven Blooms was prepared in the twelfth grade class of art teacher, Rodgers Glenn in 1958.   Lev was born on December 11, 1938 in Buckhorn (Wakulla County) Florida, 30 miles south of Tallahassee.

In order to attend Florida A&M University, he attained a track scholarship and various jobs on and off campus.  There, he declared a major in Art Education and completed his studies in 1962, receiving the Most Creative Development Award at graduation.  Lev’s first teaching job was in Fort Lauderdale (Broward County), at Everglades Junior High School.  Within his first year of teaching, Lev’s students won county-wide  art competitions, which were primarily sponsored by Burdine’s, Inc.

Lev began to pursue higher education in the summer sessions (1964-68) by traveling to the campus of the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  For the first time, he could take courses in relief printing, etching, engraving, and he developed skills in constructing and printing collagraph plates.  Following completion of his M.A. in Fine Art (August, 1968), he decided to spend two more years at U.W. thus completing his M.F.A in 1970.

His tenacity and desire for perfection were reflected in his work which was noted by Prof. Dean Meeker who hired him to pull prints in his own studio in rural Blue Mounds, Wisconsin.  While at the University, Lev met W. Stanley Hayter, Master Printmaker and founder of the Atelier 17 Intaglio Workshop in Paris, France.  He met Bartolomeo Dos Santos, a visiting faculty member from the Slade School of Fine Art in London.  With recognition from these two giants in the field of printmaking, Lev was invited to study with them and encouraged to seek a fellowship to study and travel abroad.

The Ford Foundation received Lev’s application and during the year that he awaited a reply, he took post-graduate courses in sculpture with Prof. Ernie Moll and intaglio with Prof. Warrington Colescott.  In the late summer of 1970, the Fellowship was awarded by the Ford Foundation. Lev and his wife, Joyce White Mills, traveled to London.   Lev en-rolled at the Slade where he completed his Post-Graduate Diploma.  His proposal included a plan to attend Hayter’s Atelier 17 in Paris during spring, 1971.  Lev made contacts and had letters of reference which introduced him to curators at national museums.  It was at this time that several of his works were acquired by museums, libraries, and private collections in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and in the United States.

A major exhibition of his works was held at the American Embassy in London in spring, 1971. The United States Information Agency, Paris, contracted him to tour a series of countries in East, West, and North Africa beginning in October, 1972 through May, 1973. His works were shipped among American Cultural Centers and Universities and Lev was provided tickets to travel to the locations, deliver lectures, or workshops, attend special envoy receptions, then return to his home in London.  During this time, he and his art works went to Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Madagascar, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, and to Lebanon in the Middle East.  Independently, his works were featured in galleries in Amsterdam and in London.

Having started a family in London with the birth of a son, Lev-Kahmel in 1972, they returned stateside and established residency in Atlanta, Georgia.  Lev began teaching at Clark College in the fall, 1973 until spring, 1978.  He resigned from Clark after five years of teaching to do research for the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) murals project at the Ashby Street Station which was completed in 1979.  

Professor Jenelsie Holloway, Art Department Chair at Spelman College, invited Lev to teach, initially, on a part-time basis.  Though he felt it was time to work full-time as an independent artist, instead of in the classroom, she gradually coaxed him from part-time to full-time status.  Eventually, he would work at Spelman College for nearly 30 years and serve 14 of those years as Art Department Chair.  In the interim, he would receive three more commissions: to design the marble floor and fountain of Atlanta City Hall’s new Atrium (1989);  to create a 70-foot sculpture in collaboration with Charnelle Holloway for the International Concourse at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson Airport (1995); and his latest commission project was a glass mosaic mural for the courtyard of the Atlanta Board of Education (2004).

When he relinquished his role as Art Department Chair, in 2002, Lev, a full-professor, returned to the classroom, in Drawing and he taught seniors’ Portfolio classes.  He retired from Spelman College on May 30, 2009.  His latest publication is Artist Lev Mills: A Catalog Raisonne’ and Biographical Sketch, 2010, a limited edition, privately published book.

Lev T. Mills continues to live and work in Atlanta, Georgia.

Public works designed by Lev T. Mills:
1979-Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority – Ashby Street Station- Glass mosaic murals
1989-Atlanta City Hall – Atrium Floor and Fountain in granite and marble
1995-Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport – 70’ Sculpture-E Concourse
2004-Atlanta Board of Education-Glass mosaic mural in Courtyard

Purchases For Major Collections:
1970 – Ackland Museum, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, NC

1971 – The Victoria & Albert Museum, London, England
“Something in Common”

1971 – The British Museum, London, England
“The Book: I Do”

1971 – The National Library of Scotland; Edinburgh
“The Book: I Do”

1972 – Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France
“Merry Christmas”
“Le Roi ?”

1973 – The Library of Congress, Washington, DC
“Merry Christmas”

1974 – The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
“The Book: I Do”
“Divided We Fall”

1974 - North Carolina A&T University, Greensboro, NC
“Gemini, I”

1975 – The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
“The Book: I Do”

1980 – The American Bank, San Francisco, CA
“Out-Loud Silent”

1981 – Atlanta Life Insurance Company, Atlanta, GA

1982 – Flint Community Schools, Flint, MI

1982 - African American Museum – Santa Monica, CA

1983 - The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA
“Divided We Fall”

1987 – National Center of Afro-American Artists, Inc. – Boston, MA
“Waiting…Take Me”
“It Always Starts with Mama”
“I’m Funky, But Clean”

2003-Smithsonian Institution: Anacostia Museum/ CAAHC – Baltimore, MD
“Out-Loud Silent”

2004 – The State of Georgia Art Collection, Atlanta, GA

2004 - Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia – Atlanta, GA
“Something’s Coming”
“Merry Christmas”

2008 – David Lusenhop – Chicago, IL
“Le Roi?”

2010 – DePaul University – Chicago, IL
“I’m Funky, But Clean”

Information provided by Joyce and Lev Mills

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