MIAH NATE JOHNSON / PAINTER, SEWER, CREATOR / WELLFLEET
In the 1980s, Miah began traveling the world as a photojournalist, working with major photo agencies and clients like National Geographic. When he moved to Wellfleet to care for his aging parents, assignments dried up, and Miah followed the tides, primarily making his living here as an oysterman. Today, his greatest pleasure is being in his art studio making things and painting. Here’s Miah in his words. You can go to the digital edition of the Provincetown Independent to listen to Miah’s voice, at provincetownindependent.org.
I used to make a living at photography. I would do anything for photography. Chasing around the world, I got to go to Spain, to Morocco. Oh, Casablanca! (laughs) But not anymore.
Five years ago, I have a stroke. I was talking on the phone to Anna (Nielsen, Wellfleet’s youth services librarian) and AHHHHHH! The carotid artery exploded. So, luckily for Anna (who recognized something was wrong and called 911), I am alive.
I was paralyzed, couldn’t talk. Everything turned to mush, to gobbly gook. I was beside myself: How come this is happening to me?
I was in the hospital for three, no, five months, no, six months. And I said, OK, I got to face this. I have to be strong. Will power, will power. I got to fight and move on.
So, let’s talk about painting. In the rehab place, I worked in pastels and really liked this, and say, I have got to paint now!
I do a lot of portraits. I have a good time doing that. And OK, someone is going to see it, but I really like the paintings for myself, plain and simple (laughs). Yeah. I work in acrylics, oil, pastels, pen and ink. Sewing, yeah, I am into sewing.
So, you see, the main thing is to be working, because I have to (laughs). I don’t know why, but I have to! The idea is trying to realize, what’s this all about. You don’t have much time. Painting is one of the most rewarding things to do. I don’t have to be anyone except myself. This is an important idea.
So, I got a good life — getting up in the morning and watering (the garden), have a workout, one hour, and then paint for one, two, three, four hours. And then I am done. And I walk Matilda (Miah’s service dog), paint some more. I bicycle around the parking lot (at the Catholic church) four times, and Matilda is walking right beside me. She is happy with me.
I am happy. Letting go. Laugh! Laugh out loud. You got to laugh out loud and be good to each other. This is what this has to offer, yeah.