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Arts in Milwaukee

A Public Service Of Milwaukee Artist Resource Network

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  • “Let's Maintain the Fine Membrane Line”Let's Maintain the Fine Membrane Line

    Mirror, wood, magazine photograph, ink, rhinestones. 2013

Janelle Vanderkelen

  • Art
  • Theatre
I am an Art Professional I am a Theatre Professional

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artist bio

Janelle VanderKelen is originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin and currently lives and works in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She received her B.A. as Summa Cum Laude in art from Northwestern College in May of 2012. She will pursue her M.F.A. in art at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in the coming year. Her work has been featured in several group shows including –Isms: The First Annual Members’ Exhibition of the Gunnar Artist Collective which is comprised of nine, recently-graduated Twin Cities artists. Upcoming shows include The 19th Annual Juried Student Exhibition at the Denler Gallery in St. Paul, MN.

artist statement

The mixed- media sculptural amalgamations that comprise my artistic practice allude to monumental architecture or delineation of space such as the mandala or, most recently, the triumphal arch: markers that have been used throughout history to convey and perpetuate import of place or narrative. Inclusion of this architectural reference charges the space the sculptures inhabit and allows exploration of the ephemeral power inherent in these cultural signifiers to demarcate a stage for action, to focus the intensity of spectacle. The socio-political site of the triumphal arch and the performative stage of the theater's proscenium arch are uneasily equated in my most recent work to highlight the paradoxical nature of this fragile public space that still manages to appeal to basic human nature as powerful monument.

The referential architecture of the sculptures frames the body, whether it be that of ceramic kitsch statuettes that serve as stand-ins for the figure or the actual gallery viewer who interacts with constructions that exist at human scale. These larger sculptures function as mobile stage-sets, scenery that acknowledges and revels in its artificiality. Rough wooden armatures are revealed while white and gold ceramic facade reminiscent of the 18th century French Rococo style -a cultural epitome of artifice and power play- glints in the harsh glow of pink footlights. These sculptural sets cast the individual as performer and give him or her collaborative agency to activate space and create momentous spectacle.

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