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  • Writer's pictureLois Keller

Why is this painting of a yellow jug in an art show about water?

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

Lois Keller, African Jerry Can 9"x 12" oil on paper

The Art of Water VII at James May Gallery

I am really excited that my painting ”African Jerry Can” was juried into this international water-themed art show. This exhibition focuses on conservation and protection of water inspired by Lake Michigan. The event started in 2017 in Algoma, WI in response to water concerns in Kewaunee County and continues to attract artists from around the country in a dialogue about the necessity and beauty of water and it's international commonalities celebrating our most vital resource.


What is a Jerry Can?

A young smiling African  girl in a bright turquoise and yellow dress carrying 2 yellow Jerry cans filled with water.
Photo credit: Charity Water

A Jerry Can is a container for fuel or water. Many people in developing countries use it to haul and store their drinking water. The standard five-gallon Jerry Can weighs about 40 pounds when full. Millions of people around the world spend hours each day with one strapped securely on their backs, held tightly to their hips or balanced on top of their heads. The Jerry can is a part of their everyday lives.

But the bright yellow Jerry Can is also a symbol of hope to change the water crisis.

I have teamed up with Charity Water and James May Gallery to raise awareness about the nearly one billion people who live without clean drinking water and also to raise money through art by donating half of the profits from the sale of the paintings in this series directly to Charity Water.

Better yet, check out the show in person, Milwaukee is a great art town!

James May Gallery , 2201 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI. 53202. 262)753-3130


The Journey of a Painting

My love of art, learning and community led me to want to paint this subject.

My painting group Roofless Painters went to see Desert X in the Coachella Vall

Here we engaged in slow art, taking our time to observe and create through plein air painting. We spent the day engaged in...

The Wishing Well by Serge Attukwei Clottey.

Serge Attukwei Clottey (Accra, Ghana, 1985) explores the sociopolitical, economic, environmental, and cultural legacies of the colonial project in Africa. Using yellow plastic jerrycans known as Kufuor gallons, he creates sculptures, installations, and performances that speak to histories of colonial pillaging and its effects on trade and migration. These gallons function as material and a striking symbol in Attukwei Clottey’s practice: a reminder of the way violent pasts manifest in the everyday.

Serge Attukwei Clottey, "The Wishing Well"

Experiencing "The Wishing Well" led

me to think deeper, and explore my own relationship with water. Living in severe drought in California I am keenly aware of water conservation. After viewing Clottey's work I now see every drop as an inequity of how water is distributed, carried and wasted. After completing 3 paintings that day on site, I came back to the studio and began a series titled "How We Carry" in response to what I saw, learned and also how it made me feel.

Art can do that if you slow down long enough to look.


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Jun 20, 2023

I love your work, Lois. I saw the impressive exhibit online on Artsy. Your piece is fantastic. Also love the glass of water painting in your gallery. Congratulations!

Lois Keller
Lois Keller
Jun 20, 2023
Replying to

Thank you Roberta, every painting has a story.

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