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Conversations with Janella Fesenmaier

Today we’d like to introduce you to Janella Fesenmaier.

Hi Janella, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I’ve been a creative person since I was a child. I had always thought I would be an artist one day. I may have been the only person to believe it too! After taking all the art classes I could in High School I went to a community college and continued to study the arts. At one point, I thought I would take the leap and apply to Hamline University as I understood they had a good art department. The day I got my acceptance letter changed my life. To me it meant, someone believed in me. I spent my years there exploring printmaking, painting, life drawing, ceramics and sculpture. I landed on sculpture as a major with a minor in communications.

Not long after graduating, I got my first Gallery position and never looked back. This proved to be somewhat of a tricky situation for me. As much as I loved doing my own artwork I found that working in a gallery setting was taking all my creative energy. I lost my creative self and had a hard time finding out what my direction was.

Finally, after more years than I would like to admit, I started to find my way. I finally found an art direction that felt unique to me and I also loved what I was painting. Birch Trees have always been a favorite of mine since a young age and they dotted the lakes I grew up swimming in. At some point, I married my love for nature with my love for music and started collaging them together with other elements that interested me, like birds.

During the pandemic, I was feeling as lost as the rest of the world. I didn’t feel creative and honestly felt pretty empty. It took a fellow artist to challenge me to a 100 days of creativity on Instagram. I went into it with an open mind and decided that whatever happens, let it happen. It was during that time that I started making paintings of feathers. It was much harder than I first thought it would be and honestly, challenged me in the best way! I’m so grateful for that challenge! Each feather I paint is like a little gift to myself. I love them all and would love for them to be in a show where they could all be together.

Now I jokingly call myself, Janella Feathermaier!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think some of the challenges I have are some of the same challenges many artists have, cost of supplies and finding time to create. It takes time to settle down and apply myself for a length of time and make an intended practice out of it. When I was finally able to get into a routine it really helped me stay focused.

I’ve never been the type of person to create when I’m not feeling it. Staying inspired is important so I look to nature for that by exploring outside. It helps fuel my creative energy. I learned long ago to put the brush down if I’m not inspired. I’ve wasted too many supplies pushing paint around just to end up tossing the work later.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I specialize in painting birch trees and collaging elements into them with music and/or birds, butterflies and even dragonflies. I feel like the work really resonates with people! I’ve done many commissions for collectors over the years and each one is special to work on. I think the nature and music elements in my work are something that makes my work stand out.

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
The thing I love the most about Minneapolis, specifically North Minneapolis, where I live, is the diversity. I love my community and the strength of the Northside. People like to discredit our community and that is too bad. I’m proud to live here and watch the regrowth of the Northside.

There is this great coffee shop called Get Down Coffee in the neighborhood and they have the best sweet potato latte!

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