Cool Friends: Janie Korn

Meet Janie, the New York-based artist making covetable candles. Her wax portraiture is both ceremonial and the next art piece to bring into your home.

What led you to your career as an artist?

Art has always been a consistent undercurrent in my life; when I was a little girl my mother would tell these incredible stories, beautifully illustrating the characters and setting and small visual details as she went along. Drawing became what I did throughout adolescence and adulthood as a therapeutic escape, but it took me a long time to get over my fear of committing to the field professionally. I ended up going to school for Spanish and Latin American studies and seriously considered the foreign service for a period of time. I worked a variety of jobs, here and abroad, but I never felt like myself because I wasn't producing creative work and didn't feel seen for who I was. In New York I got a small studio in Two Bridges, just so I could make little short films or sculptures just for myself. Slowly people started to purchase them, and definitely not in a quantity to make a big financial impact on my life at the time, but the significance of someone bringing my work into their home was enough affirmation for me to begin to see myself as a creator. And that confidence shift was really important to me, and empowered me to present myself, without overwhelming shame, as an artist.

What's your favorite part about the New York creative community?

There's no gatekeeper, people want to see you and know your work - they just don't know you yet! When I moved to New York six years ago, I had very few connections in the creative world, having come from an entirely different field. I was desperate to build more friendships within the community, so I started organizing these small, scrappy shows around the city. It gave me an excuse to get to know all these artists I had been following and had admired for years. I think if you sit and wait for people to build relationships with you, you may be waiting a while. Plus, any opportunity you provide for another person will always come back to you. So it's good to be generous when you are in a position to do so, talk about other artists, include them in shows.  Once you are in a community, keep building.

Could you tell us about how you used your platform and skills as an artist to raise money for the Minnesota Freedom Fund and the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund?

I was deeply moved by the fundraising I had seen online that was helping to provide bail money for protestors, so I came up with the idea of creating cop pig candles in exchange for donations of $150 or more to either of those charities. Candles are very ceremonial to me. The burning is not just destruction but a symbolic rite of setting something free. I thought this effigy was therefore a super fitting image for the times. I originally capped the fundraiser at $1,000, because the candles truly take a long time to make, but I raised the limit a few times in order to allow for more donations and in total we ended up raising $2,850 for the two charities. I am super grateful to everyone that contributed. The bail system disenfranchises the poor and people of color and needs to be abolished in its entirety. I also held a raffle on my stories for a candle version of the iconic Happy Foot, Sad Foot sign, but instead says 'Defund the Police' and that raised $1,030 for the Equal Justice Initiative.

Follow along:
@janiekorn on Instagram

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Made in Brooklyn, NY