Just An Artist
I call myself a creator because I am so much more than any one category of a person who does or makes things. I am both a self-taught and an educated artist, author, designer, and educator.
I earned a Bachelor of Applied Science Degree in Graphic Design and Visual Communications from Indian River State College in 2017.
In 2020-21, I used my degree to propel me into teaching K-12 art through the Educator Preparation Institute of IRSC, earning my Florida Teaching Certification in 2022.
“An enigma”, he said. “I’ve met all kinds of [people] in my life, been able to [read] them – no problem, but you… You’re an enigma to me”, said Dr. Hendricks, my 6th-grade social studies teacher at Lincoln Park Academy in Fort Pierce.
He was right, of course. I’ve been the quiet observer full of opinions and perspectives all my life; often misunderstood, miscategorized, and misinterpreted when I do, finally, speak.
My presence is rarely known but commonly felt, although I’m too shy of a person to let it be any different. I’m loudest and most heard when I create visual art that channels my emotions into shapes, colors, and lines that tell a story. Usually, the story is about love or loss, our greatest motivators, but sometimes… sometimes it's about what lies between them.
There… is truly where the enigma is, where we are often found – between love and loss. In celebration or grief for what's to come of one or the other.
It’s my intention to create works that express an alternative perspective of the human condition that will aid others in their personal quest towards overcoming barriers to love and acceptance.
Life is difficult, the struggle towards happiness, inner peace, and balance with nature is difficult. We each face a struggle that is unique to our individual lifetime. Within each of us is a story, be it a conflict that is relational, situational, inner, paranormal, cosmic, social, or a mix of all.
Creation is how we express our stories. Through pictures or words or movements or sounds – the visual and performing arts.
Art shows us the best of who we are, it raises questions about life and society, about our beliefs. It reflects our imaginations at play, but also mirrors the ugliest parts of human existence.
It begs us to ask, demands us to answer, and then probes deeper – all towards the point of understanding ourselves in the moment that we are confronted with it and further still to whatever may be beyond our understanding, but within our hearts to feel.
I want to share my story to help others discover and tell theirs.
A Journey of Self-Discovery
First Year Fluke
My Short Teaching Story
I began teaching middle school art as Mister Nolli, artist/designer turned teacher, in 2022. Since I graduated with my degree in 2017, I was preparing myself for the career transition by reading articles, watching videos, constructing a curriculum, and finally completing the Educator Preparation Institute courses.
The truth is, none of that prepared me for the reality of teaching art in middle school. All the theories, the conditioning practices – like CHAMPS, and classroom management strategies felt like a joke when I entered the classroom and began my real education.
I found myself confronted with many moral and ethical concerns that were discredited and ignored by most teachers. All but one, who became my mentor and helped guide me through the struggle of being a caring, compassionate human being dealing with students that are surviving adult matters with kindergarten tactics.
As fate would have it, I endured my first-year experience alongside my best friend, Damien Strowbridge, who was also a first-year teacher at the same school.
As if the system's shortcomings and the new Don't Say Gay laws weren't enough, my career transition coincided with the greatest loss in my life, the death of my adoptive mother, Mary Black.
After a full 18 weeks of pushing my grief away, I had to do something, so I left teaching and focused on healing my heartache.
On July 31, 2023, one full year has come to pass since her death, and the light is finally returning to my eyes. I am reinvigorated and motivated to revisit teaching, but first I'm going to revisit all my old ideas and re-design them with the experiences I've gained.
Not just for myself, but for all those like me entering the field with no idea where to begin.
It's time to INVADE K-12 Art.
Faculty orientation at DMMS.
Faculty and staff showed up to student sporting events after school to be supportive of their ambitions.
Faculty and staff all wore their pink shirts to support awareness and advocate for testing.
Faculty orientation at DMMS.
Mister Nolli, aka
Maurice M. Rubio-McMillon
Florida Educator #1359808
Nolli The Author?
An Unexpected Twist
I've written a lot in my lifetime. From essay practices in elementary school to novella-sized memoirs documenting some of my best and worst life experiences. Still... I never imagined I'd write a book, and of all times it would happen when a portion of America would call for bans on them.
Books, like mine, that raise important questions on culture, race, identity, religion, sexuality, and suicide shouldn't be banned, but discussed. They were written to help their authors heal and give insight to others in desperate need for acknowledgement, understanding, and hope. Hope that there is a future where they, too, can be healthy and happy surrounded by people who love and cherish them.
Woah – let me get off my soapbox and just say, I didn't expect to share my story in such a way, but I'm glad I did. Everyone who's read it confirmed for me what I hoped would come of it – shared meaning.
Although it's a novel, it's based on real-life events lived by yours truly. In all honesty, the me close ourselves off from the world, the less we are understood and easily condemned. In the last 20 years, we have made so much progress in the way of sharing and accepting one another. Yet, here we are, banning books.
America needs new victories, new voices, and new narratives.
Tell your story.
And if you still need a little encouragement...
Then read mine.
My Living-Dead Name
Maurice M. McMillon, Jr.
I was named after my father (1966 – 2007), but I never felt connected to my name. As I was growing up I came up with all sorts of names that I’d rather have: Joseph, Troy, Sergio, Sid… and I had every intention of changing it when I was able to do so myself. My father unexpectedly died in 2007, leaving me to feel all sorts of emotions about changing my name. I felt I had to keep it… for him.
That didn’t mean that it would be my only identity. I used my last name for most of my artwork starting in 2008; MCMILLON. It was a good strong and bold identity for my artwork… but it lacked an aesthetic I needed; fun, mystery, beauty, and something indescribably old world. In 2015, as I was developing a stronger style and there was a need within me to exhibit artwork, in an effort to still maintain the use of my last name in my artwork, I reversed it.
MCMILLON | NOLLIMCM
NOLLIMCM was then broken up into two parts, Nolli McM, as if a first and last name. The sound of it is funny, interesting, and evokes emotions in just saying it that I feel are more in alignment with my style of art and design.
Henceforth, I became Nolli.
Why Fuss Over A Name
Because... Identities Are Important
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of books, movies, and songs have been written and performed about finding ourselves. Our identities and how we define ourselves are an important part of being human. We categorize and name nearly everything we encounter.
I treat my design projects with as much enthusiasm and belief that identity matters as I do my own self-discovery. I tend to focus much of my work on LGBTQIA+, mental health, and spiritual well-being; however, I serve all communities, organizations, and small businesses on the Treasure Coast and beyond. It’s my greatest pleasure to help others secure an identity that befits them; helping others with self-discovery is a part of my life’s purpose.