Curious Lifeforms of Janet Van Fleet

Curious Lifeforms by Janet Van Fleet

The materials Janet Van Fleet uses to make “Curious Lifeforms” (a series of sculptures of humans and animals) are sticks, rusty nails, buttons, and old clothespins–an assortment of weathered man-made and natural objects.

She explains, “As I gather (and subsequently manipulate and assemble) these materials, I become an archivist, preserving and bringing into new relationships oddities from material culture and natural history that would otherwise disappear into the planetary dumpster.”

“Wood, metal, and stone are slowly degraded and composted in the natural course of things, and most of the millions of tools, shirts, bowls, and other products of human manufacture are discarded and lost in time. Objects that are preserved, plucked out of this rush toward oblivion, take on a numinous quality that elevates them to a kind of iconic status.”

The small sculptures of people at ARTSHOP have themselves been repurposed from a previous work, Movement, that was part of Van Fleet’s “Rolling Boil” series. “The work was destroyed last year in transit to an exhibit in Baltimore, Maryland,” said Van Fleet. “This offers up the wonderful irony that the Movement was broken, but the People rose again!”

Van Fleet is a mixed-media artist, creating her pieces primarily out of natural and man-made materials. Her work often makes reference to political, environmental, and social issues.

She grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, studied briefly at the Art Institute of Chicago, then went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Art in Psychology and an Master’s of Art in Education. She is a founder of Studio Place Arts, a three-story community center for the visual arts in Barre, Vermont, where her studio is located. The Vermont Council on the Arts awarded her grants in 1996 and 2005 for the creation of three large installations, and she was chosen in 2008 to create the central gateway exhibit in the Environmental Exhibit Collaborative’s “Smart Art: Exploring Science and Art”, which is touring to museums in Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, and  Quebec.

In January 2010, Van Fleet traveled to Nagoya, Japan to create a 36-foot long wall installation in her “Circular Statements” body of work in recognition of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. Later, in September 2010, she co-curated an exhibit called “On the Planet” in three Vermont venues that combined the work of Japanese and American artists.

Janet Van Fleet’s “Curious Lifeforms” are on view in ARTSHOP at Galerie Maison Kasini in Montreal. Look for them online soon.