"Lepidoptera" by Janene Grodesky was the popular choice at 2013 Art Melt.
Editor’s note: On July 20, Forum 35 presented the tenth annual Art Melt Juried Exhibition, attracting thousands of art lovers to the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge. Each year at Art Melt, Country Roads presents a People’s Choice Award that invites attendees to vote for their favorite piece. This year’s winner was Baton Rouge artist Janene Grodesky, for her piece “Lepidoptera.”
Janene Grodesky is a tall woman. She is lean but sturdy, thanks to her affinity for yoga, though she describes herself as more “wavy and lopsided.” As she shows me each of the pieces in her latest collection and describes her craft, it is hard for her to stand still. Her arms paint invisible arches, mimicking the motion in the piece before us. Her body—shoulders, waist, hips—lean right, then left, then in, then pause momentarily. Her hands are active too, gesturing while she talks.
Perhaps many artists become animated in the presence of their work. Perhaps communicating the process and meaning of art is best accomplished through a combination of dialogue and body language. After all, the creation of visual art is, in part, a physical exercise. But there is meaning and intention in Grodesky’s movements, reflecting an attention to physicality, which predates her artistic impulses.
Grodesky holds a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from LSU and is an adjunct professor there, teaching a class or two most semesters. She also owns the One Heart Yoga Center on Perkins Road, teaching yoga both there and at the YMCA. No surprise, then, that movement is as much a part of her artistic life as it makes up the full picture of her professional life.
The foundation of her art is a marriage between Vinyasa flow in the yoga studio and a technical understanding of the body’s muscular systems. This combined focus on both the mechanical and qualitative aspects of movement is especially evident in her most recent collection on display at Frameworks Gallery—all riffs on abstract interpretations of butterfly wings. “Lepidoptera,” currently on exhibit at Baton Rouge’s Capitol Park Museum, won Country Roads’ People’s Choice Award at this year’s Art Melt juried art exhibition. Lepidoptera is the Latin word meaning “scaly wing” and refers to an order of winged insects including moths and butterflies.
In Grodesky’s abstract butterfly pieces, she takes one sliver of the whole, breaking it down to its components. In “Lepidoptera” for instance, Grodesky arranges forty painted hexagons between two walls that meet at the corner. It is more installation than flat art, and each individual hexagon contributes to the larger whole, creating a slice of wing. Zoom in, and one sees disparate, solitary pieces. Zoom out, and the pattern of shapes resolves into a wing, with movement and shape and depth. “It looks like it is taking flight,” she says, referencing the structure and symmetry, the geometry and graphing—in essence, the physicality of the piece that gives it dimension.
Working from a garage studio at her home, Grodesky is completely self-taught, though she attributes much of her development as an artist to travel, finding a supportive art community here in Baton Rouge, and good old-fashioned trial and error. Much of her work is tactile, speaking again to the kinesthetic properties employed during the making of a piece and the texture that suggests motion afterwards. Grodesky uses anything she can get her hands on to create that three-dimensional quality of her pieces: sand, gel, glass beading, even her own shredded telephone bills. But even after Grodesky has expressed her own vision, she insists that others will “see various things in it. They will see what they are meant to see.” Art is intuitive, both for herself and for her audience. “People will bring their life experiences to each piece,” she said. “I like to let what emerges emerge.”
If the art itself represents movement and the artist herself literally moves as she describes her work, it is no surprise that the act of creation is also very active. Grodesky pipes in music to her garage studio, dancing as she paints. There is a time for stillness in the yoga studio, a time for quiet and meditation. But here, with a canvas and a palette of paint, it’s all about the movement.
Details. Details. Details.
Those interested in Janene Grodesky’s work can email her directly: email@example.com
Her collection at Frameworks Gallery will run until September 7. 8501 Highland Road Baton Rouge, La.