Monday, February 3, 2014

Janet Groenert - Barrier Tape and Wearable Electronics

Janet Groenert

Name: Janet Groenert
City/State: St Paul MN
Website: N/A profile:
Twitter: @grownert

Bio~ Janet Groenert was born in San Diego California in 1957. She received a BFA  from  the  Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Janet’s wearable work has exhibited nationally and internationally and was featured in Threads magazine. She recently finished a research and planning grant from Forecast Public art and is working on a commission for Habitat for Humanity. She lives and works in the Twin Cities. 

Tell me about your work? 
In last 10 years have been exploring barrier tape and wearable electronics. 

The barrier tape pieces have the tape hitched to mesh forms as clothing, in embroidery frames  as a bear pelt and as indoor and outdoor installations.

The availability and variety of the barrier tape, its’ temporary intent, the common and uncommon printed messages, the texture that occurs from the cutting or tearing strips then hitching it onto mesh to form a dense area, the drape of the 3” strips when longer, the visual reference to flowers, fur, ribbon and connections to those elements in culture. How the message is obscured when hitched, the linear nature of the material  create  a cloud map of connections for me. People recognize caution tape. It is 
in common usage.

Electronics is a slower process for me. I am exploring Arduino, Lilypad and Aniomagic components.  I am working on  a piece that will have a audio. Eighteen conductive fabric switches will activate the sound elements.

What are you currently working on?
This month I am working on two collaborative projects, the Pedal Bear Art Shanty at the White Bear Center for the Arts and  White Bear Lake and a commission for the new Habitat for Humanity building on Prior and University Avenues in St Paul.

How is this different from past projects?
I tend to work alone at home. Both current projects require the help and input of many people.
Part of the Pedal Bear Shanty mission is to reuse and recycle materials. Our team of 12 artists have collected large sheets of plastic used to envelope scaffolding at construction sites, and shipping wrappers for furniture and protect large merchandise and pallets of items delivered to home building stores.

Many people in Minneapolis and White Bear Lake have spend hours cutting the plastic into strips for many other people to hitch on the the mesh pelt for the bears.

Our Habitat for Humanity proposal has  Ericka Dennis and I interviewing staff, volunteers and home buyers about their experience with Habitat. I have been attending  home dedications to meet the home buyers children and collect drawings from them. I also made a Quilt Block Design game in Scratch ( Families, volunteers, and staff have designed quilt block patterns for the project. The Quilt is made of building materials , copper pipe, images printed on Tyvek(housewrap) and survey colors. 

How did you decide to become an artist? 
Since I was a young child I have  gravitated to making things, to express, to acknowledge, to interpret, to understand, to explore. My process of making requires planning,execution and evaluation along with periods of repetitive work. Making is a mind body experience.

Or it could be I liked getting in trouble for getting glue on the wall to wall carpet. 

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 
Get started, persevere, explore, experiment, try new techniques, have  a community, listen to the world, seek out resources, apply for grants, above all keep working, work every day no matter how little. 

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work? 
Exhibitions and publications have generated the most sales.
I have a day job at the Science Museum of Minnesota. It requires the skills I have as an artist and I am exposed to a  ton of things I bring back  to my art work. 

How do you market yourself?
Not much, I have a site at

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy? 
There are so many i can't even remember them all...
Hussein Chalayan an artist's perspective on clothing 
High Point  basketball court floor and ironing board prints don’t remember the artists names
Open Eye Figure Theatre the wide range of puppeteers that they host is awe-inspiring
Liz Miller for the scale and repetition
Doug Argue  scale and poetry of the work
Barebones Productions   rawness of  materials and inventiveness
Hottea   use of public structures
Erica Spitzer Rasmussen  female body metaphors

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
Oh god. My personal art mythology is a non linear associative map of connections and influences.
I hear about interesting things on MPR and in City pages and from friends. I am a member of Textile Center, MIA( Minnesota Artist Exhibition Program), the Walker and Support the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, so I visit when exhibitions or speakers interest me. I also attend exhibitions my friends and colleagues are in to support them.

In the last few years have been making tiles at iron pours that brought me to Franconia Outdoor Sculpture last February. I continue to go out and experience the changing sculpture park.
Walk to the Minnesota Museum of American Art. I have enjoyed the exhibitions they hold of local artists and keep tabs on the new gallery space on the corner of Robert and 4th Streets. Sometimes it is just through the window others times inside for shows, talks and events.

Minnesota Center for Book Arts because I have friends who love type and paper.
Forge for the beautiful furniture designs I cannot afford
Susan Hensel Gallery 
Third Place gallery for the work and community, 
Soap Factory --  love to see how artists use of the raw space
I like to see installations, textile work, I went to MIA to hear Nick Cave
State Fair Art Exhibition

I am curious about techniques artist use. Neighborhood art crawls provide a list of artists.  I pick one or two, usually by their medium, to see. Last time  I visited Tish Murphy, a textile artist who works with rug hooking. I had seen her work at the Textile Center. 

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?   Public Art Review
Hit the local museum websites.

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
Hug it Out, at altered Aesthetics  at the Republic in 7 Corners / Mpls.  The opening reception is Friday 2/6/14 6-10pm. Through out February

Janet Groenert

Image List:
1. Flowers
2. Pelt
3. Caution Tape Dress - Photo by Larry Labonte
4. Danger Dress
5. Obi
6. Pedal Bear
7. Image of artist

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