Columbus Makes Art Presents Janet George on a Lifetime of Curiosity in Art
Janet George is the curator of and one of many artists exhibiting in the Greater Columbus Arts Council’s inaugural gallery exhibition, New Beginnings: From There to Here, curated by Creative Women of Color. We chatted with her about her work, inspirations and process.
Nick: How long have you been creating?
Janet: Like most of the artists I know, I’ve been creating as long as I can remember. Two things I consistently did as a child (neither of which earned points with my parents), was draw and take things apart to discover how they worked. Curious George. That was me then, that’s me now.
Nick: How do you describe your work to a newcomer?
Janet: I started exhibiting as a fine art photographer in 2008 and since that time I’ve grown in my art-making to include mixed media and digital creations. It was also during that time, 2008 – 2010, that I joined Creative Women of Color (CWoC) and the now defunct Creative Arts of Women (CAW). I’ve exhibited extensively with both groups as well as in ‘open calls’ and I’ve had several solo exhibits. I also enjoy curating and have served in that role for a number of shows including the current GCAC New Beginnings exhibition.
In the past I’ve exhibited pieces as a photographer, collage, fiber and mixed media artist. I’ve also created a short video piece, and small 3D work. Most recently I’ve been exploring combining my original artwork with digital images and illustration and collage. A number of the pieces in the New Beginnings exhibition were created using this method. The process is analogous to adding ingredients to a make favorite stew and then adding various spices, taking a small taste each time until the flavor is just right. As any cook will tell, there are instances when you’ve just added too much salt. It’s the same with art. You can either throw it out and start over or, mostly, you switch it up and figure out how to mitigate the salty taste.
Nick: Who are some of your inspirations?
Janet: My artist mentor, and a true Columbus treasure, Queen Brooks is a constant source of inspiration and support. I am a self-taught artist and Queen’s guidance has been invaluable. Stephanie Rond, another Columbus gem, has also been a source of encouragement and inspiration
Nick: What’s your process for creating a new piece?
Janet: I can be inspired to create a new piece of art by something as direct as the theme of an exhibit or current events, and as indirect as the design of rust on an old junked truck; the beauty of dying zinnias backlit by the sunset; the cracks in concrete steps; peeling wallpaper or violins hanging in a storefront window. There have been a few times when an art piece has come to me fully formed in a dream. No matter the impetus, once the idea or vision is formed, I’m off exploring options, tools and material to bring the vision to reality.
Nick: What’s the focus of the new exhibition at the GCAC gallery?
Janet: For the GCAC gallery exhibition, I worked with Alison Barret, the Arts Council Director of Grants & Services, to bring the show to life. Over the course of our exploring a possible theme for the exhibit, Alison shared the history of GCAC’s building and that it had been an automotive showroom in the past. In creating their new office space and gallery, the Arts Council incorporated some of the building’s historical charm into the modern renovated space. In keeping with the Arts Council intent, the name New Beginnings: From There to Here was designed to pay homage to the past while celebrating the present.
Nick: Is there anything else you think readers should know about you?Janet: I’m proud to be a member of the Eastside Arts Initiative at Broad Street Presbyterian Church and the Martin de Porres Center art committee. I’m also a community volunteer for Franklin County Children’s Services and take every opportunity I can to create art with children.
See Janet’s work in New Beginnings: From There to Here at the Arts Council’s gallery (182 E. Long St.) through Dec. 23. The gallery is open to the public Wednesdays and Thursdays, noon to 4 p.m., or by appointment Monday-Friday.
Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting and advancing the arts and cultural fabric of Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Learn more about local artists, organizations and events at ColumbusMakesArt.com.