I manipulate finely ground glass on sheets of flat glass (in my signature sgraffito technique) to create imagery, fusing the powder into the glass in kilns. By layering and overlapping the elements, melting the panels together creates a narrative commentary. The composition of imagery and color at the service of narrative within these panels is intuitive. I find the time-consuming process of artwork helps me to focus and experiment with the ways and means to depict the poetry, symbolism, and magic of the everyday.
At the core of my artwork is pure portraiture, but great focus on the disharmony of the self and perception. Pressures from society and the toll it takes on one’s emotional state are featured and the familiar is fractured and distorted by outside influence. Subtle shifts, repetition and replacement, or blocking the facial features are attempts to create a feeling of the internal conflict of the subject. My works is meant to explore raw emotions and the fragility of the soul – where one may present a calm face to the world while distracted by inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes.
The recent works explores the subject being lost in thought –I use the frit powder imagery as means of immersion into an emotional tenor.
Michael Janis was born in Chicago, IL and currently lives and works in Washington, DC. He is Co-Director of the Washington Glass School in Mt Rainier, MD.
As the child of a Chinese/Filipino immigrant and grandson of Greek and German immigrants, the family histories and struggle to assimilate has been a perpetual source for his narrative work that deals with understanding identity. Trained as an architect, his glass artworks often showcase his very disciplined approach to the medium.
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).
Massachusetts’ Fuller Craft Museum mounted a solo show of Janis’ glass panels and sculpture in 2011, where they have recently acquired one of his works for its permanent collection. Janis’ artwork is also in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago, Florida’s Imagine Museum, as well the artwork collection at the US Bucharest Embassy. The DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities awarded him the 31st Annual Mayor’s Arts Award for “Excellence in the Arts”.
The American Glass Guild (AGG) features Michael Janis as the keynote speaker for the organization’s 20th Anniversary Conference, held 2021.