nance miller

It all started when I was walking through the staff room at the school I teach at and I saw a pile of books that were stamped "DISCARDED".   They were so beautiful, I couldn't bear the thought of them being tossed.   At the time I was teaching Shakespeare and was grieving the loss of so many beautiful words in our language.  Experts figure he had a working vocabulary of at least 30-40,000 words.  Today, and educated person wields 3-5,000.  Sad but true.  What words were we holding on to, and what words were we letting go of?  So I listened.  And listened.  It seemed like the beautiful words were disappearing at a frightening rate, all of the unique and wonderful descriptors were gone.  More words for things, less words for nature and feelings...  

I had heard Robert Haas say "We label the things we love", so was that it?  Are we a culture of "things" now?  Is this too late to turn around?  And it was here that "Remember When Words Were Beautiful" was born.


All of the pieces are made from discarded books from the school district and from the public library.  There are paintings (the "paint" is cut pages form the books), wall pieces, mobiles...  The floor is made of old encyclopedias.  When there, it is my hope that you give a word, and you take a word.  There is a big dictionary, a Royal Typewriter, and plenty of paper.  

Please help keep our vocabulary from becoming endangered!


For further reading about words please see 

Remember When Words Were Beautiful

An Installation, 2017