Janelle Lile:  Artist statement 2009


My work is autobiographical. I can’t escape my personal life in order to make work, and everything I make is linked in my mind to what is happening in my life at that moment. Although my subject matter is personal I think the experiences are understandable to other people.  This body of work is representative of a period of transition in my life.  After a difficult decision to uproot and move away from where I grew up, I find myself trying to come to terms with how my life has changed by learning about the place I am now. 

One of the ways I can process the transition is by paying close attention to what is happening around me at ground level.  I go outside every day to investigate what is now blooming, or dying back, or to watch bees and swallows and pick snails out of the garden.  In addition to learning about what is already here, I’m working to change my surroundings to suit my preferences as I’ve been moved out of my own habitat.  This daily process decides for me the subjects of this body of work.  Both the unknown plants that I discover as they have emerged and the unfamiliar plants that I planted here but could not grow in my former climate are combined with imagery of diagrams and visual information.

I use the visual language of diagrams in this body of work to point out ironically their assertions of fact and simplicity.  Nothing is ever as clear-cut and straightforward as a diagram would lead you to believe.  My interest in diagrams began when looking through a microscope at plant cells and wondering how the artist in my textbook could have come up with something so perfect and ordered after seeing the same messy complexity that I was seeing.   And again recently I have been thinking about the way my life has changed in ways that I could not have predicted - and many of the things that I was prepared for never happened at all.  The sources of the diagrams in these pieces range from sewing instructions to computer programming textbooks to anatomical reference books but the images have all been combined and taken apart in ways that make them meaningless in their original context.

My intention is to create work that combines all these ideas into something that is beautiful to look at.  When all the unfamiliar aspects of my life have become routine once again, this body of work will still be strongly linked to all the various feelings and ideas that this transitional stage represents.