Janice Moorehead

Article written for The Low Down
September 20, 2006
published in Artists of the Gatineau Hills , 2007

Janice Moorehead, Painting with Glass

“It’s September, so it must be the Studio Tour.” Glass artist and founding member of the Tour, Janice Moorhead laughs at the memory of her daughter’s quip. She raised her children as she did her art, the two passions intermingled from the beginning. “They grew up on the Tour, surrounded by the work of other artists. In the early days we all toured each other’s studios in a group during the week and our kids came too. It was like a community party.”

Janice has similar memories of growing up in Montreal loving art. Throughout school she was the one chosen to create the Christmas decorations or to be let out of class to paint murals down the hallways. In another time, with some support for her ability in math and art, she might have become an architect. But this was the 60s and there was no expectation that she would ever make a career beyond the stereotypes of teacher, secretary or nurse. She became a nurse.

Soon her nursing was funding an Honours Visual Art degree at Ottawa University where she graduated in 1979. There the imperative to stretch the limits of your materials and to create the work of art set the tone for what was considered fine art. However, by serendipity, Janice helped a friend at a craft show where she discovered the delight of mingling with the people who actually buy your work. “They stop and talk, they give you immediate feedback and they come back year after year. The atmosphere is so relaxed, you feel free to experiment and to try new things. And your work sells – you can make a living as an artist.” Little did she know that by 1986, within a year of discovering her signature layering technique where glass shards are suspended between two large panels of clear glass, she would quit nursing and become a full-time, self-supporting glass artist.

As a painter compelled by the delicate nuances of light and colour, Janice felt a natural affinity for glass. “I think of myself as a painter whose medium is glass. It is a beautiful material, always changing with the light, with the time of day or year. It has a life that responds to whatever is going on.” Janice’s art mirrors the world, the shards of glass are like the shattered pieces of a fragile landscape that she knits together to create a thing of beauty and harmony. In a world out of balance, she believes that we need to find that place within us – we all have it – to reach for beauty, to express joy and freedom, clarity and lightness of being.

“In the smallest sense I see myself as giving hope to those who want to live by art. You can do it too. Society may say no, you’re being impractical or self-indulgent but now more than ever we need our artists. We all have this potential if we would only allow ourselves to believe in the meaning and purpose of art – to give back beauty, to live in harmony and balance, to embrace the mysterious, healing presence that art brings to the world.”

Janice Moorehead Aspiration Layered Glass

Janice Moorehead
Layered Glass