Articles

Curatorial Statement, “En Memoria de mi Madre, In Memory of my Mother”

By Professor Denise Lugo, California State University, Channel Islands

Tzompantli: Reflexión Artística 2020
October 2020 10/1/2020

The international art exhibition entitled “Tzompantli:  Reflexión Artística 2020” (or,  in. English)“Tzompantli:  Artist’s Reflections 2020” was coordinated by the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mexico City. This international exhibition was videotaped and dispatched to all Mexican Consulates globally.  Janell Mithani is a Southern California artist featured along with other international artists who are featured in this unique exhibition.

Janell’s painted “Catrina” Calvera entitled “In Memory of my mother, 2020″ displays her personal colorful aesthetic and creative lens. This canvas’s symbolic foundation is found in ancient Mexican skull symbolism historically tied to the “Tzompantli” (Aztec Skull rack, symbolizing the eternal cycle of life and death), which is reflected in the title of this exhibition. 

Historically speaking, the ancient Aztec-Mayan “Calaveras” (skull) imagery epitomized the spiritual, cultural, and fertility ancestor rituals. At the beginning of the 20th century, the artist Guadalupe Posada recycled such skeletal images to represent the everyday Mexican “magical” reality.

Janell Mithani’s Catrina Calavera is positioned in a frontal pose and painted within a colorful and bright palette outlined within a tightly linear fashion–Janell’s Catrina looks directly at us, the viewer. This linear painting also interweaves ancient Mesoamerican symbolism, depicting the ancient Mesoamerican hairless dog, a spiritual figure that guides the deceased into the underworld. This Catarina figure is beautifully depicted in symbiosis Monarch butterflies, another spiritual motif depicting a journey back to the heart of Mexico.

The artist’s ethereal painted brush is a loving paid homage to her mother and manifested by adding decorative mushrooms. This very colorful canvas functions as a visual embrace created with compassion, empathy, and love that is much needed and highly appreciated in 2020, with our world in the grips of life and death challenges.

Professor Denise Lugo
California State University, Channel Island
Art History Department

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The Natural Beauty of Janell Mithani’s Career

By Valerie Bueno

Profile
April 2021 4/26/2021

The natural, bountiful beauty of Janell Mithani’s home state contributed greatly to the artist’s love of landscape art and environmental consciousness. Growing up in Southern Oregon, Janell spent much of her early life exploring the sprawling forests, which resulted in a lifelong love of greenery and forest wildlife. Janell cites two of her childhood art teachers for igniting her interest in painting and drawing, which eventually led to a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Southern Oregon State College and a career of over 25 years in commercial art and portrait photography. 

Along with traditional canvas, Janell utilizes biodegradable surfaces such as tea bags, bark, and wood. Her interests span from jewelry making to photography to water color based portraits and she can often be found teaching art workshops to children and adults alike.  Janell credits her garden and childhood memories as inspiration for much of her work, which is evident in the many paintings found on her website, janellmithani.com.

In spite of an art career that spans over two decades, she has not stopped learning new skills, including her most recent challenge, online marketing. Although Janell has found the learning process for online marketing challenging, she says her greatest challenge is “finding enough time to create all the art I want to create” and balancing time between work and family. Her family is of great importance to her and when asked what her proudest moment has been, she is quick to point out that all her proudest moments are about her daughter. 

Janell’s most recent series, “Wildish Spirits” is described on her website as bringing a “sense of childlike wonder to her contemporary, imaginative art”.  Subjects in this series include mermaids, forest creatures, and doe eyed fairies. It seems that Janell’s lifelong love of landscapes, forest creatures,  and nature will continue to inspire her career as an artist for many years to come.