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Art Grad Janessa Lewis on Using Art to “Make Sense of Who I Am”

Janessa Lewis will graduate in June 2022 with a BFA in Art

Janessa Lewis will graduate in April 2022 with a BA in art

Janessa Lewis

Why do you create/participate in art?

I create art because it is my way of making sense of who I am and the world that we live in. Art helps me feel connected to God, the earth and people around me in vulnerable and empathetic ways.

What inspires you?

The people in my life inspire me. My family and friends are always challenging me to think about the world differently. The love and support they show to me inspires me to be better and make a difference. God and the earth inspire me. I feel that I am really able to understand God and my relationship to Them through the earth. There is so much on the earth that inspires us to look to God and it helps me to have hope even when everything seems to be going wrong.

How have you found belonging during your time at BYU?

I have found belonging through the art department at BYU. Because of the art department, I have had life-changing experiences and met lifelong friends. My professors and peers have inspired me to be a better artist and person. They have created a safe space for me to ask questions, to grow and to learn. Even when I went through difficult times and I did not know what my future held, my professors and peers believed in me and helped me see that there were great things in store for me.

What’s your go-to study snack?

Most recently it has been Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, gummy bears or Dr. Pepper.

What was your favorite project you worked on as a student?

I have had so many great projects while I was a student! I had the opportunity to work with Christopher Lynn and Malachi Wilson doing a curatorial project in the SPRING/BREAK Art Fair in LA. It was great to have an experience outside of class, really applying what I had learned in school but also learning things that you can only find in a hands-on setting.

Who is your favorite artist and why?

My favorite artist is Ana Mendieta. I love the way that she works with her body in communicating ideas about identity and am inspired by how she explores our relationship to the earth. Specifically, I love her performance and photographic body of work, “Untitled: Siluetas Series” (1973–78).

What are your aspirations/goals for the future?

I plan to continue growing as an artist and a person. In the near future, I will attend graduate school and explore different types of art-making. I love printmaking and hope to work in many different printmaking studios around the world. I am excited to explore the world and meet and learn from new people. One day I hope to teach art at a university but I will always be looking for new ways to grow as an individual and an artist.

Answers have been edited for length and clarity.