Great artists have an unmistakable style. You don’t have to be an art connoisseur to point out a Van Gogh in a museum, while just about anyone can spot a character drawn by Dr. Seuss.
Kenny Miller has that level of style.
Once you’ve set eyes on one of Kenny’s zany and loveable monsters, you can pick his handiwork out of a crowd, but this November, you won’t have to look hard at all. The Dayton Society of Artists will feature Kenny’s artwork in his very own exhibit. Around one hundred works will be on display—that’s a horde of monsters!
Kenny’s style speaks volumes to his personality. Perhaps one reason his artwork is so expressive is that art is one of Kenny’s major outlets for sharing his thoughts and feelings. Having suffered a stroke at birth, Kenny is nonverbal. Just as his artwork is mixed media, he uses a mixture of sign language, gestures, communication devices, and facial expressions to make his voice heard. And, of course, he uses art.
Kenny is one of several artists enrolled in the Spire Arts program at Boundless Community Pathways, Inc. Spire Arts is a vocational arts program that gives artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges the opportunity to discover new techniques and medias while helping them to sell their work and have fun expressing themselves.
“I think his success as an artist can be contributed to his positive energy, the support of his team, and his ability to stay true to his vision,“ says Christina Gluck, former director of the Spire Arts and a key figure in encouraging Kenny’s artistic career. “When I look at his art, it fills me with love and happiness. The pieces he creates are, in my opinion, like self-portraits. The art gives everyone an opportunity to see the many sides of Kenny. His super-human qualities can be seen in the energetic lines, happy colors, and the rhythmic movement captured in his work. His art serves as his communication device in a much deeper way than an iPad ever could.”
With his mother acting as interpreter, Kenny expressed his appreciation for the program and for the guidance he received from Gluck. “Since I can’t ‘say’ thank you, the best I can do is to carry on with my monsters to keep people smiling, laughing, loving, and caring. All in honor of what she has taught me. If it wasn’t for her, I would have remained silent, but now I have a voice!”
Another way Kenny uses art is to express his great love for his family, who often receive gifts of his artwork. Kenny is especially close to his younger brother, Michael. They share a love for the characters who are often the inspiration behind his “monsters“. Kenny says one of his favorite creations were the “Ninja Turtles“ he made for his brother.
“Then there is the Flash I gave my godson, Oliver, and Wonder Woman I gave to my sister, Robbi. Those are my absolute favorite and I get to see them whenever I visit them. I know when they look at them every day they smile and think of me. I love making them happy,“ explains Kenny.
Not only will Kenny’s art be on display for the entire month of November, on November 18, Kenny will attend a virtual award ceremony where he will be honored with the Developmental Disabilities (DD) Hall of Fame Award!
“They were all happy for me,” Kenny says of his family and friends on hearing the news. “Especially Mom and Dad. But most of all I was so totally happy that I pumped my fist in the air and jumped up and down.”
The DD Hall of Fame Award is given by the Montgomery County Board of Developmental Disabilities Services to recognize outstanding efforts by individuals in areas including advocacy, art, community service, employment, personal accomplishment and more.
Kenny’s monsters will be on display starting this weekend at the Dayton Society of Artists at 48 High St, Dayton, OH 45403. The gallery is open from 12 pm to 5 pm every Friday and Saturday. His artwork will be on sale through the gallery.