Michael Janis

Michael Janis

About The Artist

Michael Janis • Mt. Rainier, MD

As a glass artist, I am drawn to the unique properties of this medium and the ways in which it can capture light and form. A former architect, I learned to communicate visually complex ideas about human experience both symbolically and figuratively, using the juxtaposition of unrelated elements in the utterly modernist mode of collage. My frit powder drawings of people evoke both self-knowledge and evasive maneuvering. Mark, line and material become an extension of touch in the act of representation. 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. 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.


Artist website

Q&A with the Artist

Tell us how your work is made.

I make my glass powder drawings by sifting finely crushed colored glass onto sheets of flat glass. By scraping and scratching the powder with an X-acto knife or a rubber tipped shaper, I can create incredibly detailed imagery. I have an almost obsessive focus that served me well when I was an architect, and now allows me to sit for hours maneuvering frit powder into intricate forms that populate my narratives. The glass panel is then fired in an electric kiln at temperatures up to 1600 degrees, annealed and when cooled, can be coldworked into final presentation form

What makes you passionate about the medium you work with?

Working with glass, I am able to create a sense of fluidity and movement, as well as a sense of sharpness and precision. By breaking apart and reassembling the human form in unexpected ways, I aim to capture the complexity and contradiction of the human psyche. Through the use of light and shadow, I am able to create a sense of depth and dimensionality, as well as a sense of ethereality and weightlessness. The transparency and reflectivity of glass further adds to this sense of ambiguity and fragmentation, as the viewer is invited to consider the work from different angles and perspectives.

What is something unique about you or your practice?

As an artist working in figurative art, my aim is to capture the complexities and contradictions of the human experience. I am fascinated by the ways in which our inner lives can be disjointed and fragmented, often leading to feelings of disconnection and alienation. In my glass artwork, I seek to convey these inner states through the use of disjointed and fragmented imagery. By breaking apart the human form and reassembling it in unexpected ways, I hope to evoke a sense of the psychological dissonance that so often characterizes our lives.