Janie Paul grew up in Concord Massachusetts, lived for many years in New York City and now lives in Ann Arbor Michigan where she is a professor at the University of Michigan Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.
After completing a BA in painting at Bennington College, she received an MA in painting at Hunter College while teaching art to children at the Brooklyn Museum. Fascinated with their drawings, she decided to pursue a PhD in art education at New York University and focused her research on perceptual development and qualities of realism in the drawings of preadolescents. She taught adults at the Parsons School of Design and children at the Brooklyn Museum and other community settings around the city.
Two major impulses have guided her professional choices since then: an attachment to the natural world and a desire to understand the human need for artistic expression. The first has led her to paint landscapes in many places including art colonies: MacDowell, The Blue Mountain Center, Ragdale, The Hambidge Center, Jentel, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and The Thupelo Workshop in South Africa. Printmaking is also part of her practice. She created a print portfolio called The River, based on Henry David Thoreau’s A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, which has been collected by The Houghton Library at Harvard, the John Hay Library at Brown, the Special Collections Library at the University of Michigan, and the Concord Public Library. Her work is also in the collections of the Fogg Museum in Boston, the University of Michigan Museum of Art and various private and corporate collections.
Since moving to Michigan, Janie has been working with incarcerated artists and Detroit school children and this work has influenced her art. While still making drawings from nature, most of her work is no longer naturalistic. Influenced by the strong shapes in children’s drawings and the detailed textural work of most prison artists, her work has incorporated both of those qualities. She exhibits her work internationally and around the country and is represented by the Blue Mountain Gallery in New York City. For the work she has done to bring together university students with prison artists and children in Detroit, she has received many awards including the University of Michigan’s Diversity Award and the Arthur F. Thurnau award for excellence in undergraduate teaching. She has co-curated twenty Annual Exhibitions of Art by Michigan Prisoners.