is a native New Yorker, born in Brooklyn and raised
in and around New York City. She now lives in the
Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.
Ms. McKenzie studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology (NYC) and the Art
Students League (NYC), on scholarship (Merit, Arnold Blanch). She was the recipient
of the Edward McDowell Traveling Scholarship, which sent her to Europe for
a year to study and travel. At the time, she was one of the youngest recipients
of the McDowell, which is the Art Students League's most prestigious award.
After returning to New York the League gave Ms McKenzie her first solo show.
Since that time she has focused her life's work primarily on the subject of
The artist's devotion and commitment to imagery of women has in many ways to
do with the loss of her mother and grandmother at an early point in her life.
She realized that their journey--and the journey of all women--was
interwoven and linked together. She grew to believe that her work would serve
as a symbolic voice for women who were not able to speak for themselves.
In the mid-nineties Janet McKenzie began to incorporate diversity, children,
and symbolic imagery into her work with women. At the same time the need to
explore a sacred voice within her work surfaced, partly influenced by time
spent in New Mexico.
Janet McKenzie's painting, "Jesus of the People," was selected winner of the
National Catholic Reporter's competition for a new image of Jesus at the Millennium
by judge, Sister Wendy Beckett, art historian and BBC television host. Her
interpretation of Jesus pays homage to two groups usually left out of such
imagery, African Americans and women. In the words of Sister Wendy, "This is
a haunting image of a peasant Jesus - dark, thick-lipped, looking out on us
with ineffable dignity, with sadness but with confidence. Over His white robe
He draws the darkness of our lack of love, holding it to Himself, prepared
to transform all sorrows if we will let Him."
Janet McKenzie is currently working on "African American
Women Celebrated" . This new body of work pays homage to women of color
and brings together themes long important to the artist, Motherhood, Iconic
Women Alone, Children (the future) and the Gift of the Elderly. "African American
Women Celebrated" is generously funded by the Breyo Fellowship.