Sam “The Dot Man” McMillan (American, 1926-2018)

Growing up in depression-era North Carolina, McMillan did a variety of jobs throughout his life as farmer, bartender, furniture maker, and handyman. When he began making art in his 60s after an employer asked him to paint bed frames, he didn’t stop. By the time of his death, McMillan had amassed an enormous body of work that covered walls, doors, cabinets, flower pots, cars, and clothes. “Dot Man” became his trademark because of the way he used brightly colored and misshapen polka dots to bring alive his compositions.
Using primary colors, McMillan painted black and white families holding hands along with scenes from everyday life, like riding bikes or flying kites, alongside his motto: “If we all hold hands, we can’t fight.” This spoke to using our connection as humans in this world to make peace and unite against bigoted hate and violence. A memorial exhibition of his art was held by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, Winston Salem, and now many collections throughout the US have obtained his work.