Jana Charl


Venus of Adams Square
3-month Temporary Installation [click image for installation video]
Venus of Adams Square

May 3 - July 28, 2017: Adams Square Mini Park Gas Station, Glendale, California

Exploring a variety of media and techniques around testing the boundaries of what defines contemporary art, especially the blurring of the traditional lines dividing craft, commercial and fine art, characterizes my creative process. Fascinated by the challenge to capture the human form and psyche, I stylize the curves that define and distinguish the sexes. By focusing on the minimal, yet still recognizable form, I strive to express universal experiences as well as personal associations.

Reminiscent of the prehistoric Venus figurines (such as the Venus of Tepe Sarab and Venus of Willendorf), “Venus of Adams Square” is a curvaceous, fertility-goddess-like sculpture. The Venus is made of scraps of visually captivating colorful textiles and second-hand clothing which are sewn together and stuffed. Completing the installation are suspended abstract flowers of textile pieces which represent the abundance of yellow flowers and blossoms in the park.

– Proposal Video 2016

Large-scale Installation, Arsenal Street at the intersection of School Street, Watertown, Massachusetts
Sunrise Installation

July 10, 2017 to January 3, 2018 (6 months); 3-panels on vinyl, 36 x 5 feet / 11 x 1.52 meters

Sunrise is acrylic painted on canvas; however, I disrupted the canvas surface by cutting it and then weaving painted strips of canvas into it.

The stylized female form has become a signature in most of my artwork over a period of many years.
It symbolizes the personalization of often abstract concepts. We can intellectualize so many aspects of our lives without feeling a human connection. As a woman, it is most familiar to relate to my own sex.
I don’t intend to exclude men; but rather to question the accepted practice of using the male sex as
the default to represent both sexes. By choosing female representations, I question perceptions.

My passion is story-telling. I have created a language of bars, which I incorporate into my paintings, to represent the words and punctuation of the narration. Viewers are challenged to use their own words to tell the story; thus, creating an individualized experience.

– About the Exhibition

– Artist Interview

Herstory: Women Incarcerated, Herstory: Jane Doe(s)
Proposal for Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site [click image for proposal video]
Eastern State Penitentiary Installation

Proposal submitted June 2017

My project consists of two parts: a fact sheet and a compilation of stories. The fact sheet’s purpose
is to highlight significant characteristisics of women inmates, such as the current rapid rise in incarceration and the history of victimization. Statistics organize experiences in an impersonal way; disconnecting one from empathy. Consequently, I also would like to portray the stories of female prisoners.

My visual interpretation of abstract statistics and prisoner narrations consists of stylized curves representing the female form. I then weave graphic bars into the compositions to symbolize numbers and words. The resulting mixed media paintings will not survive the climate of the penitentiary; therefore, the originals will be digitally captured for output on outdoor vinyl (with a life expectancy of 5 years). Elements from the penitentiary environment, as allowed, will be incorporated into the works, adding layers of history and associations.

A triptych of large-scale vertical panels (four by twenty feet each) depicts a humanized visual, Herstory: Women Incarcerated, of the quantitative data collected on female prisoners in the U.S.
The vinyl artwork is to be strategically placed on the wall behind The Big Graph sculpture in order to supplement the general statistics with those specifically relating to women. Each of the panels will
hang next to each other, tied by nylon rope to the homerun fence on the top of the baseball field’s
30-foot tall stone wall perimeter.

Debris and found objects from the penitentiary grounds (such as scrap metal, pipes, bricks, stones,
and door parts), will be tied to the grommets at the lower edge of the artwork for a dual purpose:
to function as a weight to hold the panels in place and to integrate elements from the surroundings.

Often remaining anonymous, women inmates’ histories are reduced to numbers to form fact sheets. Herstory: Jane Doe(s) is a series of nine stylized painted portraits of women which will be digitized, printed and then sewn onto four-foot tall welded-wire fencing. Woven into the portraits and fencing will be the words of the told and untold stories as represented by graphic bars. The installation will wrap around the walls of a cell, the former home to numerous convicts. The only interruption to the flow of the fencing will be a bed frame turned on its side to feature the portrait and story of Ethel Johnson, the story which inspired me to propose this installation.

In 1922 Ethel Johnson’s unanswered complaints about sexual abuse by a guard resulted in a pregnancy. The stillborn baby was discarded in an adjacent wash house after she delivered it by herself. She was told to stay quiet by fellow inmates experiencing the same abuse, the matron ignored her claims, and her attorneys did not take any form of action.

Tables, Chandeliers, and Selfies
Proposal for Faena Art Prize, Buenos Aires [click image for proposal video]
Tables, Chandeliers, and Selfies

Proposal submitted August 2016

My creative practice involves exploring different media and techniques around testing the boundaries of what defines contemporary art, including the blurring of the traditional lines dividing craft, commercial art, and fine art. I am a passionate storyteller inspired by the raw materials, experiences, and observations that I collect. By appropriating the inherent histories of found objects, I add layers of meaning and humor. Serendipitous discoveries in a scrap pile are welded into sculptures; digitally output elements are woven into acrylic paintings.

As the scene for this story, I visualize the Sala Molinos as a dining room from the early 1900s era; furnished with tables, chandeliers, and portraits. It is a space animated by lively conversations about art. "Tables, Chandeliers, and Selfies" contemporizes this setting with installations and mixed media art which are incongruous with one’s expectations; created to heighten the awareness of one’s experience in the moment, to stimulate an intuitive contemplation of time, la durée.

17.5 km away, 23 minutes by car, is Argentina’s largest cattle market, Mercado de Liniers. Another 10,836 km away, 18 hours by plane, is one of Oregon’s largest ranch holdings in Madras. Moving discarded and decaying cattle bale feeders and barbed wire spools from Hay Creek Ranch to the context of Faena Art Center, installed as “tables” and “chandeliers,” allows for the re-examination of their perceived life. As a consequence, the intended, predicted outcome is no longer relegated to the past; thereby demonstrating the indeterminate nature of duration as continuous, heterogeneous time.

Any attempt to capture a moment in time is already obsolete, as the moment passes instantaneously. Completing the environment is a series of "selfies"; the phenomenon of the selfie is an expression to isolate a frame of time. Canvas is painted in Los Angeles; giclée canvas prints are made in Buenos Aires and woven into the paintings. In order to suggest that the continuity of real time is not evenly divisible, they are spaced intermittently on the wall.

Tables that are cattle bale feeders, chandeliers that are barbed wire spools, and portraits that are headless selfies, are ultimately conceived of so that the viewer can exercise his/her imagination.
After all:

Duration is ineffable and can only be shown indirectly through images that can never reveal a complete picture. It can only be grasped through a simple intuition of the imagination. — Henri Bergson