Get to know Michael Janis, an exciting artist who uses glass in dynamic ways.
How did you discover the medium you currently work in?
When I was an architect in Australia, I designed offices and building lobbies in cast art glass. Inspired by the way the local artists worked with glass, when I moved back to the USA, I wanted to change careers. I walked into the Washington Glass School in 2003, and never left.
How do you define "artist"?
The title of artist is something that is self-bestowed. Artists are people who call themselves artists. In my case, I use my materials, techniques and craft to tell stories. To me, these are stories meant to be shared, although some have meanings that context, time, and the personal history of the viewer will have an impact the reading of the narrative.
How did you discover the Gateway Arts District?
When DC built the National’s baseball stadium in (starting in 2005), we had to relocate the glass school. After an exhaustive search through the District, VA and MD surrounding areas, the Washington Glass School moved to Mt Rainier in 2006 – so that makes 2016 our 10th year anniversary here in the Gateway Arts District! Once we got here, we knew we found our home.
If you could give your younger self a piece of advice about being an artist, what would it be?
Lots of hard work and long hours are required. It’s not easy, but it can be done. That and cut back on baked goods as desserts… eat a piece of fruit.
What drives you?
Back to the question of defining “artist” – if I call myself an artist, I have to prove it and create dialogues that invite investigation.
What is your greatest challenge as an artist?
Time [and more] time.
What are you working on right now?
Heaps. I have a solo show at Maurine Littleton Gallery in Georgetown this September and I am part of an international invitational show in Michigan that opens in May. The Washington Glass Studio is in the midst of creating the public art for the Laurel Library, making the glass panels with the Prince George’s community – some of the first glass panels will be out on the worktables during OST.
Oh, and the Washington Glass School will be celebrating its 15th year this year!
Washington Glass School
3700 Otis Street
Mount Rainier, MD 20712