I paint places which blur the boundaries between self and environment. Using elements of landscape and detritus as the alphabet of my language, I weave intimate tangles you might want to crawl into, or escape from. I observe how nature echos my own emotional, intellectual and spiritual experience, through silent decay and teeming thrusts of life, in the cloistered spaces between branch and soil. Here I am free to describe a meditative state of being, with awareness and reverence for the threads of connectivity that run through the world.
I love the physicality of painting murals, the climbing and wide arcs of movement, the deliberate action of holding an intent, surrounded by the distractions of everyday life.
I like being a public servant, an advocate for the arts and an artist, on a street corner or parking lot... The ability to reach people who don't ordinarily think about art is compelling. People talk to you. There's a question or two about process or content, and then there's a story, a fragment of their story, a glimpse of an unknown life, a personal connection and a shared experience.
A mural can also be a conduit for a community to express its character as well as its desire for change. People are energized by seeing their ideas concretely depicted in a mural that reflects positively back on themselves and their surroundings. Murals are often a jumping off point for further community action.
In regard to children and mural painting; A child's small voice is amplified through the deliberate action of making art. As an art teacher, I am sensitive to the notion that a single event or interaction can spark a child's imagination or reinforce a belief that they are not enough. Learning how to take an idea and turn it into something tangible, something greater than themselves, and share it with the world, is an essential skill practiced through art-making, which lays the foundation for becoming a fully realized adult.
Jane Degenhardt has been making art, teaching art and advocating for the arts in education for over 35 years. Her paintings and murals can be seen in private collections and public venues throughout the United States. She currently paints and teaches in the Pacific Northwest, immersed in the lush, intimate landscape that informs her work.