About Janet

I began formal studies in art after age 35 in order to develop my skills and contribute to my community more fully. I have produced art and helped others produce art for community organizations, and am committed to teaching art in ways that make it accessible to ordinary people.

Some of my most profound experiences have been in making art with other people including peasants in Nicaragua, refugees in Thailand, and neighborhood children creating murals over graffiti.  Through this process, I have learned from uncommon teachers that it is not the materials that make art, but the spirit of the artist.

Janet painting with motor oil

I pursue several avenues in my professional work: studio paintings, mural commissions and collaborative work with youth and community groups that combines art and social service. The insights from each of these cross-fertilize the others and contribute to my growth as a person and an artist.

I designed and painted my first mural in 1974.  Since then I have painted murals for community groups, mural societies, public institutions, and private homes.  I am standing in front of my mural at Tefft Wine Cellars in Outlook, Washington.

Janet at Tefft Wine Cellars

Chinese Year of the Horse Installation

As a community artist, I create art to meet community needs.  Expression of specific emotion or ideas often leads me to use non-traditional materials.

For a New Year's exhibition of the Year of the Horse, 2002,
I used recycled cardboard, hand-sewn with twine, as a metaphor for that which is old, giving way organically to that which is new.

The location for this installation is the White Salmon Branch of the Fort Vancouver Regional Library in White Salmon, Washington.

I teach and work with young people in the schools and for community groups, providing art instruction in a variety of techniques.  I help young people create murals in a collaborative process that I call "shared visions."  Here I am working with a young person on a panel for the AIDS Quilt.

Working with youth on AIDS Quilt

Explaining symbolism
My personal expression is in narrative paintings, which often address social and environmental issues. 

Here I am explaining the symbolism in a series of quilted paintings at the Gallery on the Pali, Honolulu, Hawaii.

View Janet's current resume in PDF format


2003-2011 Janet Essley. All Rights Reserved
Last Updated:  2/10/11
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