MaryAnn Miller

y work is about the rudiments of human existence, our biological identities, who we are genetically and culturally. I am somewhat limited to techniques that are not physically demanding because I have a neuromuscular condition called Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis. On a good day, I can work unimpeded, because my meds are working. On a bad day, I need to lie down and wait for the episode to pass, leaving me tired and weak. The symptoms are extended hours of paralysis that are not as bad as they were growing up without medicine. Then I had an episode every day. For the past few years I have been making screen prints (serigraphy) and Plexiglas monotypes incorporating poured ink, spray paint, chine colle (glued thin layers), pochoir (stencil), and large fabric monotypes. I digitize some of these processes for use in my artist books. My early artist books come from my Italian American experiences and travel to Italy visiting cousins, in particular the stories my grandparents told of their immigration. More recently, I have moved beyond my own culture to include the history of other people and other lands. We all have a biological identity and I believe one of our most important life tasks is to find out what that is and embrace it. I use the word “embrace” in its contemporary meaning of giving value to a thing by owning it and studying it. Biology is what we’re born with, health is what happens as we grow up and age, and science is what can save us if we know enough. Sometimes, science can’t save us, health slips away before we know it’s gone, beyond repair.

When I begin a print, I make a serigraph base upon which I add or redact parts. I use parts of other prints to add to the base or cover redacted places. These parts take on a different identity and value. I spend time reflecting and rearranging before I glue them. It’s a slow process toward resolution and one I liken to writing lines in a poem. Revising along the way, laying down a layer, breaking it, tearing it, enjambing in a new place, caesuras all over the place. Empty spaces are silence, the more silence, the quieter the print, the slower the eye travels. One can’t make prints without sequential thinking, and thought being given to color, form, and composition. In my prints found below, one can see this happening, especially in the series of Releases where I show the density of Release 1 loosening up with each subsequent print. In each print there is more space, more silence, more room for the viewer to slip inside and move around.

More evident in artist books is a structural composition. There is usually a cover, pages, and a spine, not always in traditional positions. Spines can be radial, as in Sacred Sisters (Lucia Press 2015) made with Holly Trostle Brigham and Marilyn Nelson. Spines, pages and covers can be integrated with each other and stationary as in Mother Monument (Lucia Press 2018) done to look like an obelisk with poetry about eight women in history written by eight poets including Kim Bridgford. Now, to me, this book seems like a monument to Kim, preserving her lines about a woman pilot who soars through the heavens.

My books with poet collaborator J.C. Todd deal with war and other causes of displacement. FUBAR (Lucia Press 2016) is about one casualty of the Iraq war from the point of view of a female air force physician. On Foot/By Hand (Lucia Press 2018) is on the subject of people forced from home: refugees, migrants, asylum seekers, or deportees. J. C. Todd’s poem "I Carry This" integrates the narrative of a leaving into the visual images. Although the poem is set in the Middle East, the book has implications worldwide and throughout history. Timeless, it shines a cold boiling light on the tragedy of humanity at its most inhumane. These books were done in part during residencies at VCCA and the Ragdale Foundation. One of my great honors was being the designer and binder for The Ballad of and for the Black Face Boy (2015) produced by David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland and the Experimental Printmaking Center at Lafayette College with National Book Award Winner Nikki Finney, Commissioned by the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland. This book is now in the collection of President and Mrs. Obama.

Just before we shut down into sequester, I finished working on and published a chapbook (Three Sea Stones, Lucia Press 2020) by Vasiliki Katsarou, another of the Mother Monument poets. I have found a great satisfaction in collaboration and in the response of audiences for these books. I did a last poetry reading at I Am Books in Boston on February 29, 2020 and when I came back Vasiliki and I signed the edition not fully realizing it would be the last time we would see each other for months. We sold the entire edition of 75 books and conducted a Zoom reading and Q & A session initiating a new world for Lucia Press.

And now we find ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, everything I’ve done seems small compared to the suffering happening in our country. Artists have been jammed up by these hard, hard times, unable to work, unable to think or write. Part of the creative life is getting used to fallow periods, expecting them to happen after I have given everything to a project, and the empty time when it’s over. After a terrifying period of fallowness, deeper than I had ever experienced, finally, I had a response to the unbearable sadness. We who remain live through these sad times and say our goodbyes so unwillingly. To those we know, like Kim Bridgford, to those we don’t know, like the millions of Covid-19 patients. I remain terribly sad, but I continue to work.

Response 1

Serigraph and Collage 2020 22” x 30”

Second Response

Serigraph and Collage 2020 22” x 30”

Third Response

Serigraph and Collage 2020 22” x 30”

Fourth Response

Serigraph and Collage 2020 22” x 30”


Serigraph 2020 22” x 30”

Folded Chromosome

Serigraph and Collage 2011 30” x 22”

Escape Routes 1

Monotype, watercolor and sewn vectors on Fabric 2016 5’ x 6’

On Foot/By Hand

Digitized Fabric Monotypes, photographic transfer prints in expanded spine form 2018 13”x 13” closed 13” x 40” opened


MaryAnn L. Miller was the Resident Book Artist at the Experimental Printmaking Institute at Lafayette College, Easton, PA for sixteen years starting in 2001. Many of the books she made there are collected and stored in Skillman Library on the Lafayette campus. She was the designer and binder for books by Faith Ringgold, Duncan Bullen, Sam Gilliam, Curlee Raven Holton, Barbara Bullock, David C. Driskell, Nikky Finney, Nene Humphrey, Alison Saar, Richard Viera. Sharon Olds, Lee Upton, Jim Toia, Ross Gay, Khet Mar, Janet Taylor Pickett, Nestor Gil, and many others. Pairing poetry with artist books has been a specialty and in 2013 she founded Lucia Press in Clinton, NJ. Besides making artist books, Miller has led an active life as a printmaker and a poet.

PERMANENT COLLECTIONS: Bienecke Rare Book and Manuscript library, Yale University; Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, GA; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland, College Park; Pennsylvania State University, Special Collections Department, University Park, PA; McCabe Library Special Collections, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA; Stanford University, Green Library, Special Collections; IUPUI, Herron Art Library; University of Iowa, Main Library; Wesleyan University, Olin Library; Bryn Mawr College, Canaday Library; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC; Alexander Library, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ; Lock Haven University PA, Fine Arts Collection; William Paterson University Ben Shahn Gallery, Wayne, NJ; Muscular Dystrophy Association National Collection, Tucson, AZ; Hunterdon Medical Cancer Center Collection, Flemington, NJ.

SELECTED EXHIBITIONS: National Museum of Women in the Arts, Power in My Hand, Women Poets, Women Artists, and Social Change, Mother Monument, June 2019 extended until October 2019; NJ Book Arts Symposium Poetry Coordinator 2016-19 (2019 featured Kim Bridgford and Jo Yarrington with their artist book The Falling Edge); Through the Eyes of Another, On Foot/By Hand, Skillman Library, Lafayette College, June 2019; SUNY Geneseo, Beyond all Repair, FUBAR 2018; Gumberg Library, Duquesne University, Prints and the Book, FUBAR Sept-Nov 2016; Bryn Mawr College, Canaday Library, FUBAR Launch, Signing, and Exhibition, March 2016; Sussex County Arts Council, Newton, NJ, Through a Woman’s Eyes, April 2016; Transactions Art & Poetry, Spinning Plate Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA Jan 2016; An Artist and Her Choices, Caldwell University, Caldwell, NJ October-November 2016; Paper Jam II WPA Juried Show, Third Prize, Bone Black Gallery, Austin, TX Mar-Apr 2016; Changing the Subject: Women Artists of EPI, New Door Creative, Baltimore, MD Mar-Apr 2016; Print Austin, Printmaking Celebration Flatbed Press, Austin, TX January 2016; Miller, Mitchell, Pisano, Riker: Crossing the Delaware, NJ Women of the Book at Lafayette, Skillman Library, Feb-June 2015; Ins and Outs of Constructed Books Exhibition, The Ink Shop, Ithaca, NY October 2014; Woodmere Art Museum, Contemporary Voices, Philadelphia, PA January-March 2010; Hybrid Book Fair, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, PA June 2009; Pacific States Biennial National Print Exhibition, University of Hawaii, Hilo, Oct 2008-Apr 2009; Curator/Speaker/Instructor EPI, Lafayette College: More Than a Book, Lock Haven University of PA, October 2007/ SUNY Geneseo, NY, January 2008/ Slippery Rock University of PA, April 2008; Rudimenti: an Exhibit of Paintings, Prints, and Artist Books, Gallery 31, Glen Gardner, NJ March-April 2005; Telling the Story: Artists’ Books, Noyes Museum of Art, Oceanville, NJ, Sept-Dec 2006; More Than a Book, Williams Center for the Arts, Lafayette College, February-March, Traveling to: Manchester Metropolitan University, UK, Centro Cultural, San Jose, Costa Rica, Tiempo Extra Editores, Mexico, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana, Mexico City, Mexico; Meraviglia : Exhibit of Artist Books , Roethke Humanities Festival, Williams Gallery, Lafayette College, Easton PA, January 2006; Morris County Library, An Exhibition of Artist Books and Prints, Whippany, NJ, Aug-Oct. 2003; William Paterson University, Pocket Change, Ben Shahn Galleries, Wayne, NJ Oct 2002-Mar 2003; Women Artists of EPI David A. Portlock Center, Lafayette College, Easton, PA Mar-Apr 2003; American Watercolorists of 1998, Stage Gallery, Merrick, Long Island, NY, July 9,1998.

RESIDENCIES: The Ragdale Foundation 2016 (Printmaking); Virginia Center for Creative Arts 2014 (Printmaking); Book Artist in Residence Universidad de Costa Rica, San Jose, May 2008 (Books Arts); Vermont Studio Center 2007 (Painting)

32 Poems
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