Posts Tagged 'Janeil Engelstad'

Artist Interview: Janeil Engelstad

Last month, Janeil Engelstad, our first C3 Visiting Artist of 2017, embarked on a journey of exploring the collection and creating an in-gallery experience for our visitors. Meet Janeil and learn about her project, which will debut in March 2017.


Tell us about yourself.
The ocean and trees ground my Spirit. New York, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Seattle, Sun Valley, and Bratislava—I carry the experiences of the places I have lived within and they continue to feed my work. My foundation is Gratitude. My practice is Kindness.

What motivated you to apply to the C3 Visiting Artist Project?
Much of my professional practice is devoted to producing projects in collaboration through my organization Make Art with Purpose (MAP), teaching, writing or curating other people’s work into exhibitions. Currently, one of the projects that I’m working on is directing the website for the documentary film Angel Wagenstein: Art Is a Weapon, which premiered at the New York Film Festival at Lincoln Center. While all of this work is rewarding and expands my creativity, every once in a while I want to dip into a project or create a body of work that is completely my own. This residency is, for me, going back into “the studio.”

Geoff Winningham, publisher: The Cronin Gallery, Sunday, February 26, Birdhouse Vendor, Interstate 45, negative 1973, print 1976, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Prestonwood National Bank, 1981.36.8

Geoff Winningham, publisher: The Cronin Gallery, Sunday, February 26, Birdhouse Vendor, Interstate 45, negative 1973, print 1976, gelatin silver print, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Prestonwood National Bank, 1981.36.8

Tell us about the project you’re working on.
Inspired by Geoff Winningham’s photographs currently on view in the Center for Creative Connections (C3), I am developing a project that investigates and positions narratives that the viewer might not think of when looking at a work of art. For example, there is a photograph of birdhouses on a car. What can this tell us about housing or migration? How can either one of these topics then inform an investigation of another work of art in the DMA’s collection? And how can questions that I pose through a tour, or a set of postcards developed in response to these investigations, inspire the viewer to think more broadly about the world?

What did you enjoy most about this experience?
The process is enjoyable—moving from one idea to another, thinking about the material aspects of the project. Also, I literally looked at every work of art in the permanent collection that is currently on view. My knowledge expanded and my curiosity led me to research many different things. One time I was in the Museum’s library for an entire afternoon. That was a wonderful luxury, as I haven’t made time to be in a library for so many hours in several years. Growing up, I spent a lot of time in my school libraries and in our neighborhood library in Seattle. In college and in graduate school, I spent many hours in the various libraries on each campus. I love the quiet, vibrant energy of a library—all the wisdom and knowledge contained on those shelves. When I can, I will take that over researching on-line any day.

Learn about the upcoming programs that Janeil will be hosting in February and March:
Late Night Tour: More Than a PhotographFriday, February 17, 6:30 p.m.
C3 Visiting Artist Workshop: Mapping Your EnvironmentFriday, February 17, 8:00–10:00 p.m.
Teen Workshop: Telling Stories Through ArtSaturday, February 25, 1:00–3:00 p.m.
First Tuesday: StorytimeTuesday, March 7, 11:30 a.m.

Jessica Fuentes is the Manager of Gallery Interpretation and the Center for Creative Connections at the DMA.

In Collaboration

The Center for Creative Connections (C3) has a long history of partnering with artists and organizations to create meaningful experiences for our visitors. These partnerships have taken many forms, from interactive installations and performances to hands-on workshops and classes. In fall 2016, we did things a little differently—we invited artists to propose to us programs and projects for collaboration. The education team voted to work with Janeil Engelstad, Christopher Blay, Lisa Huffaker, and the collaborative pair xtine burrough and Sabrina Starnaman in 2017. We’re excited to introduce them to you here:

Janeil Engelstad, January–March 2017

Collaboratively and independently, Janeil Engelstad has produced exhibitions and multiform projects throughout the world. Her creative practice and community advocacy work often dovetail into work that addresses political, social, and environmental concerns through writing and the visual arts. She is the Founding Director of MAP – Make Art with Purpose, an organization that produces projects at the intersection of art and other disciplines including science, technology, education, and social justice activism. Engelstad’s projects have been supported and produced with a variety of partner organizations, including 9e2 Seattle, Art Margins/MIT, California Museum of Photography, Central European Foundation, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Dallas Museum of Art, International Center for Photography, Kunsthalle Stanica Žilina-Záriečie, Oboro/Montreál, San Francisco Camerawork, US Department of State, and others.

Christopher Blay, April–June 2017

Christopher Blay is an artist, writer, and curator with a BFA from Texas Christian University. He runs the Art Corridor Gallery at Tarrant County College Southeast and reviews art for the Fort Worth Weekly Magazine. His work incorporates video, sculpture, and performance. His most recent work, KWTXR, is based on the fictional character Kara Walker – Texas Ranger and responds to historical violence against African Americans by law enforcement officers. Other recent projects include Cos N!&&@^$ Can’t Breathe at the Lakeview Gallery, The Seven Deadly Things at 500X Gallery, Satellites at CentralTrak Gallery, and two ongoing public art projects in Dallas’s Coombs Creek Park and East Rosedale Avenue, Fort Worth. In 2013, Blay received the SMU Meadows Museum’s Moss/Chumley Award.

Lisa Huffaker, July - September 2017

Lisa Huffaker, July–September 2017

Lisa Huffaker is an opera singer by training, but her creative practice has exploded into poetry, visual art, and bookmaking. She founded White Rock Zine Machine, offering tiny books by Dallas writers and artists, sold in whimsically repurposed vending machines. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Southwest Review, Measure, and Poet Lore. She sings with the Dallas Opera and teaches creative writing in museums, art studios, youth shelters, and libraries.

Sabrina Starnaman and xtine burrough, October–December 2017

Dr. Sabrina Starnaman is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Literary Studies and the Acting Director of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her research focuses on Progressive Era (1880–1930) American texts about social settlements and women’s activism, urbanism, and disability. Central to Starnaman’s research agenda is exploring how 19th-century activists remediated exploitative labor practices, racism, and poverty. She is interested in finding ways that their historical solutions, often implemented locally, can be brought to bear on similar problems in the 21st century.

xtine burrough is a new media artist, author, and educator. She has authored or edited several books including Foundations of Digital Art and Design (2013), Net Works: Case Studies in Web Art and Design (2011), and The Routledge Companion to Remix Studies (2015). She is the Editor of the Visual Communication Quarterly, and an Associate Professor in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication at UT Dallas. Her awards include a Webby Honoree, a Terminal commission, and grants from the UK Big Lottery fund and California Humanities. Her recent projects recover feminist texts through mediation and reimagine virtual crowd workers as bodies with agency.

Upon meeting at UT Dallas in fall 2016, Starnaman and burrough discovered a shared passion for embodiment, literature, and the working class. The two became fast friends and quickly set forth to merge burrough’s interventions with crowdsourcing platforms with Starnaman’s expertise in literature, history, and labor. Together they are working on “The Laboring Self,” a project funded in part by Humanities Texas.

Check back next month for a highlight of Janeil Engelstad and the project she is undertaking during her time as a C3 Visiting Artist.

Applications for 2018 will be made available later this year.

Jessica Fuentes is the Manager of Gallery Interpretation and the Center for Creative Connections at the DMA.

Friday Photos: The Art of Sahrawi Hospitality

Last month, I wrote a blog post about a project the DMA co-led with MAPMake Art With Purpose, an organization that seeks to transform the world in positive ways. I can personally attest that my world was positively impacted by our community partnership program with AVANCE – Dallas, and through collaborating with MAP’s founder Janeil Engelstad and speaking with her about the impressive and inspiring work that MAP is supporting throughout DFW and around the world.

MAP 2013 – a festival and exhibition of social practice projects – launched October 1 and extends through November 24, 2013. Some of the C3 staff took a walk through downtown to visit one of the MAP projects called The Art of Sahrawi Hospitality. This project was inspired by artist Robin Kahn’s month-long visit with Sahrawi families living in the Tindouf Refugee Camps and within the “Liberated Territory” of Western Sahara.

From October 16-20, any and all passersby could enter a large traditional Sahrawi tent and experience Sahrawi hospitality firsthand with Kahn and six Sahrawi women. Inside the tent, the women women were talking, dancing to traditional music, serving tea, and applying henna tattoos.  Susan, Amanda, and I each got tattoos on our hands.

right entrance

entrance to tent

entrance to tent

entrance to tent

Najat prepares the stencil and henna ink for tattoos.

Najat prepares the stencil and henna ink for tattoos.

Susan and Najat chat as Susan gets her henna tattoo.

Susan and Najat chat as Susan gets her henna tattoo.

The tent was constructed with beautiful traditional fabric.

The tent was constructed with beautiful traditional fabric.

Najat prepares the tea.

Najat prepares the tea.


A friendly camel greets you inside the tent.

This wonderful project has already ended, but please check out the other MAP events and programs scheduled through November 24 on MAP’s online calendar.

Melissa Gonzales
C3 Gallery Manager

Community Connection: Make Art with Purpose

When you hear the words social change, what comes to mind? Some people think of government and politics, others think of social activists. When Janeil Engelstad envisions social change, her definition includes collaboration, working across disciplines, flexibility, and trust. Janeil is the Founding Director of Make Art with Purpose, “an organization and virtual resource center for creative projects that are shaping and transforming our world in positive ways.” These projects will be showcased during MAP 2013, a festival and exhibition occurring during October and November 2013 in the DFW Metroplex.


Janeil Engelstad, Founding Director of Make Art with Purpose

What inspired you to begin your work with MAP?

MAP grew out of my own creative practice, working with communities and addressing social and environmental concerns for the past two decades. Beyond that, I saw a need for a grass-roots organization that promotes the work of artists and organizations who are doing this work internationally and also acts as a connector for these artists, groups, and people from other disciplines (such as scientists and community activists) who could come together through or via MAP to collaborate on a project.

What do you hope to accomplish with the festival this fall?

Producing MAP 2013 Dallas, my initial hope was to bring a handful of national and international artists, talk to local cultural, community, and civic organizations, and see what kind of impact we could have if we came together to produce projects that address concerns that are relevant both locally and globally, such as immigration and climate change. I also hoped, with this initial beginning of reaching out and bringing in, that a spark would be lit that would inspire people to come aboard and address their own needs and concerns. That has been successful beyond my wildest dreams. Local artists and organizations who have never worked this way are seeing this as an opportunity to engage their community and talk about issues that are import to Dallas, and that is inspiring – that organizations and artists are wanting to engage in a civic conversation. Additionally, there are legacy projects that leave something behind, which create something that is longer lasting than a conversation. Some examples are the DMA project, building a new garden at the Trinity River Audubon Center, and a new seating area within a natural dye garden at UNT.

Describe your project with the DMA.

This project grew out of several conversations with Susan Diachisin about the possibility of collaborating with the Center for Creative Connections. During this time, the DMA was in the process of rewriting its mission statement and returning to free general admission. This dovetails with a central part of MAP’s mission to provide access to cultural programs for communities that are often marginalized for one reason or another. Thinking about how we could bring our experience and knowledge together to create something new, I came to the idea of inviting community members to create a guide to the Museum.

During Translating Culture…Community Voices at the DMA, twelve members of the Dallas chapter of Avance spent nine two-hour sessions at the DMA, during which they learned about the Museum’s collections and wrote their personal interpretations and connections about an artwork of their choice to be included in a printed tour for visitors in Spanish and English.

Rosy shares her insights about an 18th-century European painting during a group exercise early in the program.

Rosy shares her insights about an 18th-century European painting during a group exercise early in the program.

Bety contemplates a 20th-century American painting she has selected for the tour.

Bety contemplates a 20th-century American painting she has selected for the tour.

Participants were invited to bring their children, who made art projects in the Museum galleries with DMA and MAP staff.

Participants were invited to bring their children, who made art projects in the Museum galleries with DMA and MAP staff.

How do you tap into your own creativity?

It’s not a conscious thing I do; rather, it ignites when I am swimming…or I could be meditating. If I know I need to come up with a creative idea or solution for something and the seed is planted, after a day or two it will evolve. It comes from a combination of my life experiences, my teachers, my collaborators, Spirit and all the things that inspire me.

Janeil collects items from nature – such as bird nests that she discovers on the ground – by photographing the item in her hands.

Janeil collects items from nature – such as bird nests that she discovers on the ground – by photographing the item in her hands.

What will you do after the festival?

Immediately after the festival, I am working on a project in collaboration with MIT where I’m guest-producing the winter, on-line issue of ARTMargins, which will include a main article in the print edition, linking these two platforms for the first time in the history of the publication. The issue focuses on Eastern European art, ecology, and sustainability. Next year, I’m starting work on something called the Mobile Ecology Art Lab, which is a MAP project that is a retrofitted shipping container that will go around the world and be used as a platform to produce MAP environmental projects: a sort of art center, community house, and school all in one unfolding, portable structure.

For more information about MAP’s great variety of projects, visit

Melissa Gonzales
The Center for Creative Connections Gallery Manager


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