She IS Fierce: Janelle

My first guest blogger is Janelle! Janelle and I go way back to high school and bonded in art class. She’s now a podcast host, artist, and education coordinator!

Also, don’t forget to check out her art even “Oh, Yes She Did” this winter. She talks about it more below, but both my dance company Avant + Garde Dance Company, and some of my personal work will be there.

Without further ado, here is Janelle O’Malley!


Name Janelle O’Malley
Age (If comfortable) 31
Career/Business/Art Artist,  Education Coordinator for Rockford Art Museum, and Co-Host of The Bad Taste Crimecast
Location Rockford Il
Website/Social Media,
Degrees BFA in painting , MA Art Education
Schools NIU  Dekalb, Il


List three fun facts about yourself. The more fun and off the wall, the better. This will be an ice breaker for the audience on the blog as they get to know you.
I am a Dachshund owner, the little guy I have now is named Hans. I wear lipstick at all times of the day, my favorite color is Morange from MAC. I LOVE podcasts, I listen to them almost daily. My favorite ones currently are The Last Podcast on the Left and Behind the Bastards.
Tell us about your beginning. Where did you start, who were you “back in the day”.
I didn’t start out in the visual arts. I was very active in music and theatre growing up. I particiapted in a punk band right out of high school and would also occasionally sing with a couple jazz musicians I knew. I was attending courses to become a pastry chef and intended to do that but once I was working in the field I didn’t feel the chef lifestyle was something I could continue. The hours were long and I worked days at a time without a day off. I decided I would go back to school and puruse a career in the visual arts. I painted and maintained a sketchbook my whole life but had never entertained the idea of becoming a career artist. I’m not one to sit behind a desk and I knew that the arts would be a challenge ,which I gladly accepted. I went to NIU to obtain a BFA concentrating in studio art and museum studies. This is where I expreienced working in a museum setting at the NIU Art Museum. It greatly shaped my decision to pursue a career at a museum.
Tell us about who you are today. What are you doing and why are you doing it.
I worked a few odd art related jobs  out of college at various non-profits. Being on the border of Illinois and Wisconsin there are not many museums in close proximity, however I was able to obtain a position at the Rockford Art Museum in 2018.  I currently work as the Education Coordinator which allows me to wear many hats. I create educational programming, oversee volunteers and interns, teach courses, curate our Art Annex shows, oversee tours, and facilitate exhibition related programming. Being a smaller institution I am able to be in contact more with our patrons and the community. In addition to my duties at the art museum I am also a practicing artist. I work mainly with acrylic paint creating sculptural pieces. My work concentrates on combining nostalgic imagery of the 50’s-90’s to discuss sexuality and the idealization of the human form.  My process has evolved a great deal over the past couple of years; i am challenging my own notion of what it is to be a painter. I do this by slowly eliminating tools of a painter (brushes, canvases, etc) and using the paint to sculpt into 3D objects. For me, working in a museum setting helps me with my process in my work. It allows me to be surrounded by work  and to participate in conversations about art which is important in an artists studio practice. It gives me that push to keep examining my work and progressing it further.
What’s your favorite part of your job/business/career?
I enjoy being able to talk about art with people. I think these conversations are greatly needed especially in a community like Rockford. A lot of the time people feel art is not accesible and that they cannot comprehend it or that it is for rich white  people. We have an inherent need to create, we start drawing the minute we are able to grasp a pencil. I could spew some statistics on how art is important for learning and how it creates well rounded individuals but the fact of the matter is humans need creativity. I sought this type of work to keep these conversations alive and to show people art is for everyone. There is nothing more amazing than seeing it click in a persons eyes when they realize that can create amazing art and that they can speak about a piece. Its all about connecting it.
What advice do you have for women trying to do what you do?
A visual arts career is not easy, it takes a lot of commitment and there’s a great deal of hurdles. But I have found many many rewards not only in my own practice but in teaching others. I don’t like to call myself a teacher, I prefer to say facilitator. I’m not here to pontificate art history facts; I want to show children and adults what art can do for them. Personally obtaining a BFA and MA was greatly important to me, but I do know of many people who never finished school and did just fine. My volunteer work and interships gave me the experiences I really needed and I highly recommend doing this for everyone. I feel it is really important to find a path that works best for you.
What advice do you have young women trying to figure out their path in life?
Do not be afraid to fail, it really is the greatest teacher. Out of failure I have found even greater opportunities.
What future plans do you have? What are you looking forward to most.
I wanted to a challenge for 2019 so I decided to put together a curated show by myself. Oh Yes She Did is an all female makers show opening January 17- Mar 1 at The Old Courthouse Art Center in Woodstock, Il. It will showcase midwest female makers in all forms of the arts and I am hoping this will push me to do one show a year going forward. I have also started applying to some art residencies  in a few different states; it is something I have always wanted to do and I think it will greatly help me concentrate on honing some of my work.
Anything you want to plug? Go ahead this is the place for it!
Oh Yes She Did  January 17- March 1, 2019 Opening Reception Febraury 9 6-8pm.   Brunch and Paint February17 11am-1pm Old Courthouse Art Center for more info visit  Visit The Bad Taste Crimecast at the Chicago Podcast Festival June 13 for more info

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