Skip to main content

What's Up Magazine

Words and Paint: Uncommon Dialogue

Apr 10, 2012 07:48PM ● By Anonymous

It’s their knack for communicating the seemingly incommunicable, which led to artist Jeanne Gentry Keck and poet Lance A. Miller to a visual and literary 13-month collaboration. This inspiring artistic endeavor is currently on display at the Chaney Gallery in Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts and will remain open until April 15th.

Their exhibit, “Words and Paint: Uncommon Dialogue,” is a beautiful example of two masterful minds drawing inspiration from their counterpart’s strength. Barry Nemett, Painting Department Chair at Maryland Institute College of Art, writes in the preface of Keck’s and Miller’s book of 24 works, “Throughout their collaborative process, contrasts and connections abound, [and such is possible given the fact that Keck and Miller have placed themselves…] in a position to bounce off the passions and preoccupations associated with […] someone else.

“The beauty of their combined art is how they play with their viewers’ imaginations. Art is a platform to produce a new reality, which onlookers internalize and begin to believe—if, of course, what the viewer sees is just believable enough. Together the paint and the words ‘make us believe.’”

Keck speaks to the great discovery she made when transitioning from making garments to brushing acrylic across canvas. “Authenticity is the key to making art that can resonate with other people,” says Keck, and unlike some exhibits, where much is left to one’s imagination, the support of Miller’s text, weaving in and out of probability and actuality, guides the audience to see what the artists see. Keck carefully chose her titles—not to force her observers to think only one way—but to assist their viewpoints and succeed in having them consider alternate meanings.

Miller agrees, expressing his admiration for the project. “[The project] has been a grand experiment, and the dynamics have worked to push me to try new forms, new voices, that I mightn’t otherwise have dared.” Miller explains that “Jeanne’s work is so deliciously complex— including the titles—that each new work was a gift of encouragement to try to fly.” It is evident in their work that Keck and Miller share a fascination with words and images.

In 2010, Keck was awarded a Maryland State Arts Grant and decided to make the resulting exhibit her next venture. Miller was the obvious choice of whom to pair with on her self-assignment. She says of Miller, “He had an interest and gift of engaging in art. He was very interested in my art and could speak of it in ways that would even inform me about the work.”

For more information on their ongoing exhibit, call 410-263-5544 or visit

Excerpt from “I Am Tired So Tired” by Lance A. Miller (2011):

And now … 
… what hulk is this that skulks across the sands where formerly was bliss but now all joy is banned and emptiness resounds? 
The devil not tamed but dead where courage from me has fled. A whisper not a shout is all I am about …

“Desperation’s Muse” by Jeanne Gentry Keck; acrylic and mixed media on canvas (2011); 30”x 30”; in response to “I Am Tired So Tired” by Lance A. Miller.