Michael Janis

Artist Statement

My work, like the world and people that inhabit it, is multifaceted. Social, political, and introspective psychological dramas are played out within layers of glass. In the process of creating, I learn more about myself, and search for insight into what motivated those around me.

Delving into the psyche and physical appearance of the subject being represented, I examine them up close, and then expose them for everyone to examine for themselves. There is the facet that is voyeuristic. I intrude and invite the viewer to intrude as well. I peek behind closed doors, into the hidden lives and private moments of my subjects.

My work is figurative. It is accessible and facilitates communication. It’s an understandable language, and like dance, a narrative is created without words. Anatomical distortions emerge at the earliest stages in my glass process, separating the figures from the photographic ideal. The abstraction allows me to get up close and create my own reality. Without the distractions of perfect anatomy, I explore the figure, shape and light on my own terms. The distortions I apply to the figures are recognizable, but more familiar in a different context.

The stories told in the infinite number of faces, gestures, and bodies I see around me are inspiring and provide me with an endless supply of source material to work from. Through my work I strive to understand and create a dialogue with the world around me. I present to the viewer my interpretations of what I see and understand as truthful.

After a 20 year career as an architect in the United States and Australia, Michael Janis returned to the US with a focus on working with glass. In 2005, Janis became the Co-Director of the Washington Glass School in Washington, D.C. Janis has received numerous awards for his artwork, including the Florida Art Glass Alliance’s Emerging Artist Award 2009, the Bay Area Glass Institute’s 2010 Saxe Fellowship and he was named a “Rising Star” at Wheaton Arts 2011. His glass artwork was twice featured in Corning Museum of Glass’ publication of international glass design, “New Glass Review.” The Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts mounted a solo show of Janis’ glass panels and sculpture in 2011. His artwork is in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2012, Janis went to England’s University of Sunderland and taught at the UK’s National Glass Centre, where he became an Artist-in-Residence at the Institute for International Research in Glass (IIRG).

Recently, American Craft Magazine featured an extensive profile on Janis’ work in their April/May 2013 issue. In the following issue (June/July), the magazine interviewed him on the process his studio undertook to create the cast glass panels for the U.S. Library of Congress’ new entry doors.

The James Renwick Alliance has named him Distinguished Glass Artist for 2013/2014, and he will be having a presentation and talk about his work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in May 2014.


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About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis (susanlewis.net) is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit (positjournal.com) and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.