Meet Kathleen Janvier, our next featured 2017 LEAP finalist.
To Janvier, every morning is tasked with the retelling of histories. People remember events of the past, weigh the change of circumstance and surround themselves with things to built up a diary of objects. Janvier reflects her personal emotions, stories, and connections to the world with her finely crafted metal artworks.
Read on to learn more about the artist and her process, and remember to also swing by The Store to check out her amazing work in person available through the end of September.
Tell us about your work.
KJ: This series I made for LEAP was made during a long awareness of my own insecurities and desires for personal connection. I saw how much I was hiding from others in order to appear confident and gathered up all these adolescent shadows and awkward gestures so they could be shared and not shamed. My work often spills from a searching for strength in weakness. Lately this has taken hold in fine skins of electroformed copper whose qualities mirror the impermanence of paper, the desperation of record keeping, and the openness of loss.
Could you share with us how your background and education influenced your work?
KJ: These enameled pieces for LEAP are the direct result of my studies at The University of Georgia where I learned technical proficiency with Rob Jackson and conceptual integrity with Mary Hallam Pearse. Together they showed me the sincerity of objects and the power of small things.
Even more specific to these pieces was a summer workshop I took at Penland during that time, where Jamie Bennett taught painted enameling and helped me trust the simplicity of line drawing. I owe all three a great debt of gratitude, as this body of work would later bring a Windgate Fellowship that sent me to intern with several jewelers living and working in Amsterdam. There I watched emotion seep into material and decided to chase after intuitive making with Iris Eichenberg at Cranbrook Academy of Art where I earned my MFA. Now as a mother and a maker I am still running, sometimes after a child and sometimes after a feeling, which often seems the same.
Why were you drawn to making jewelry?
KJ: Without Martijn Wagtendonk, I may never have made it here. He was my first 3D instructor, and he very nearly escorted me to the jewelry studio when he saw how ‘detailed’ my work could be. Looking further back, I realize that so much of the time I spent with family lead me to look to small things for meaning and beauty. We spent a lot of time in Highlands, North Carolina catching salamanders and fireflies and mining garnets from these enormous outcroppings of granite beneath waterfalls. We were always looking down at small things in our hands and wondering at their place in the world and our place next to them. Jewelry allows a similar solitary discovery and excitement in sharing what we have found in what we have made. There is something secret and proud and embarrassed in the smallness of jewelry, and it hasn’t let me go.
KJ: I have always been drawn to those who can somehow feel so much and still share so beautifully. My favorite books tend to be bildungsromans of some kind or another. I am currently reading “H is for Hawk” by Helen Macdonald and “Journal of a Solitude” by May Sarton.
It has always been important for me to find companionship in writing, and I think that is what I am reaching for in my own work. The pieces I am most satisfied with are always the ones that have helped me through some time of personal struggle. So probably this is my greatest inspiration. And I can only hope those intimate narratives remain open enough to embrace the brawl in someone else. I also do enjoy traveling, from Italy to Illinois, and remembering again through the discovery of new objects how alike we all are and also how very different.
What is the best piece of advice you received as an artist?
KJ: “Be more of yourself in your making.” – Ruudt Peters
What advice would you give others considering a career in art?
KJ: I want to say ‘Never stop making. Make something terrible every day.’ But I’ve never been able to do this, and the guilt of not making can keep me away even longer. So I would rather say, ‘Enjoy your time out of the studio, and trust that you will always wander back to making.’ This is especially necessary as a new mother, where timelines flex and fold and every day is a gathering of experiences for future use.
At the end, congratulation on being one of the 2017 LEAP finalists! Can you tell us how LEAP will help you with your practice?
KJ: I am so grateful for the encouragement of this recognition and the reminder that I am not making alone. I look forward to learning from the expectations of a cultivated audience, whose standards for craftsmanship and concept may very well challenge the development of my work. I have been lucky to find an inspiring community of makers in such a short time here in Dallas, and it is heartening to know that my circle is expanding. Thank you.