Artist Janet Robbins studied Ceramics and Art Education at Massachusetts College of Art, in Boston, Massachusetts. She currently resides in New Hampshire, where she teaches at Windham High School. We’re honored to have some of her beautiful ceramic and mixed media artwork on display this month at Miri Gallery, and we’ve asked Janet a few questions about her work.
•• Tell us a little bit about your background. What made you interested in art?
I studied Ceramics and Art Education at Massachusetts College of Art, in Boston, Massachusetts, and earned my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics and Art Education in 1988. I moved to New Hampshire to teach art from 1988 – 1989, started a family over the next ten years, and returned to teaching high school in 2009. As a full time artist, my philosophy of being a teaching artist is that it enhances both my teaching and art making.
I am currently working on a Studio Masters in Art Education at the New Hampshire Institute of Art. I make art because it nourishes my soul and teaches me valuable life lessons. I currently live and make art in my studio in Sandown, New Hampshire where I resides with my husband and three sons. In addition to teaching, making art and being a wife and mother, I enjoy travelling both within the country and abroad.
•• What is your current medium and why have you chosen to work with it?
In the past I have used clay as the primary vehicle, but this work is leading me in the direction of mixed media. While I will always keep my work predominately grounded in clay, I’ve come to appreciate the symbolism inherent in the fragility of paper and other fibers, glass and wood. Whatever I use to make art, I listen to the material and the process shapes the final product and in return my product helps me make sense of my world.
•• Please tell us a bit about your pieces that are being exhibited at Miri Gallery. How do they fall into the theme of mental health awareness?
Genetics and the role they play in our emotional and social development are the foundation of my current body of work. I am the daughter, granddaughter, niece, aunt, and mother to people whose emotional well-being is threatened by mental illness and cognitive disabilities. The images I convey in my artwork become metaphors for the impact that these hostile and intrusive genetic elements have on both their host and the people who surround them. My intent is to explore the grotesque and beautiful in nature as a metaphor for the role that genetics play in shaping who we are.
•• What are you trying to communicate with your art?
Erosion, decay and destruction are recurring themes in my artwork. I collect and use visual images of disintegration found in both natural and man-made objects. I am particularly drawn to the beauty found in these objects, and am interested in the symbiotic relationship between the beautiful and the grotesque. New beauty is revealed through erosion, and what’s left takes on a strong and useful new life. The erosion of our lives reveal a part of us we rarely expose to others. The layers of our armor further peel away, revealing the fragility of the system underneath. The erosion of both objects, ideas and relationships both remove their protection and reveal the strength that is underneath.
•• Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
I’ve always considered myself a renaissance woman and if I want to learn about a medium, I take a class. I have been a fiber artist, a blacksmith and a woodworker. My current interest lies in manipulation of glass, either glass blowing or glass slumping, or both.
You can view more of Janet's work at Miri Gallery during the Salt Lake Gallery Stroll on September 16.
Show will be up September 16 - October 7.