We Didn't Come Here to Be Pretty

The Hudson Milliner Art Salon
Feb 17, 2019 5:30PM

"We didn’t come here to be pretty, however, we women all feel pushed by society to transform into objects of desire until we realize we didn’t come here to be pretty. At that moment our guard drops and reveals inner feelings of frustration, strength, anger, resignation, and so many other emotions I intend to capture for this show’s paintings." - Charlotta Janssen

"It Started Long Ago and for me it was recently triggered again by Olive Jane Goodin's portrait from 1910. I have been dying to paint Olive since her great-granddaughter dropped off a photo taken in 1910 in Jamaica to me. I was told that the young woman wearing a heavy manly coat and a giant garish bow didn't want to come to the States and I sought to convey her strikingly unsmiling resentment.

Once finished I felt a deep ache to paint more women in this vein. As I researched various old photo libraries (particularly the Farm Security Administration's Record of how America struggled through the Great Depression), I was struck by the seemingly never-ending struggle of fellow women against the constant system of marginalization. A lot of us are enablers, some of us gain from this battle, if only for a minute, and some have been enabled by the fight: for we all have moments when we are done being pretty.

It's a complex conversation coming to the forefront. I don't know if these ladies were victims, enablers or fighters. I do feel they are fed up with the eternal oppression running generations and I share their desire to be free of the farce of ‘pretty’, especially the guilt of our complicity. Letting down that guard is not surrender, but an act of rebellion depicting that deep-rooted historic resentment and submission to the projections of society versus who we really are." - Charlotta Janssen

About the Artist:

Charlotta Janssen was born in Maine to German parents living in America under the Marshall plan. In 1973, Janssen's family moved to Iran, where they later fled during the revolution in 1979. Back in Germany, she studied painting at the University of Arts in Berlin from 1986-1989. Janssen later dropped out and traveled the world as a street musician and performance artist. In 1991, she picked up her brushes again and started organizing art shows wherever she traveled. In 1995 Janssen moved to New York. In 2000, she opened a restaurant to showcase her work in Brooklyn. In 2005, she started to narrow down her color spectrum to teal, white, black and rust and in 2009 she reintroduced collage and this element created a real conversation that keeps evolving.

"Das Geld Kommt Nicht Vom Ficken" which means "The Money Doesn't Come From Fucking" was inspired by a photo taken by Sven Goerlich in 2012. I wanted to depict my two really close friends from Berlin and me in a series of tableau. Silke, to the left, used to edit porn and moved to editing feature films and I always loved that Silke's business card says, "the money doesn't come from fucking." I realize in retrospect we all needed that on our business cards.”

“I can't believe this image is from February 1936."Drought Refugees in California" doesn't do it justice. The girl in her coat, pants, especially her nonchalant stance and smoldering regard are years ahead of her time. She was James Dean when James Dean was a child of 5.”

“I have been dying to paint Olive since her great granddaughter dropped off a photo taken in 1910 in Jamaica. I was told that the young woman wearing a heavy manly coat and a giant garish didn't want to come to the States and I sought to convey her strikingly unsmiling resentment of her fate.”

“Her life and music come through her is so uncensored by her circumstances. I always loved her voice. Reading about her life though broke my heart but knowing of her activism and how nobody could force her to be "pretty" rings louder and louder - especially now. Her recent "prettification" didn't change her message to my relief.”

About the Artist:

Charlotta Janssen was born in Maine to German parents living in America under the Marshall plan. In 1973, Janssen's family moved to Iran, where they later fled during the revolution in 1979. Back in Germany, she studied painting at the University of Arts in Berlin from 1986-1989. Janssen later dropped out and traveled the world as a street musician and performance artist. In 1991, she picked up her brushes again and started organizing art shows wherever she traveled. In 1995 Janssen moved to New York. In 2000, she opened a restaurant to showcase her work in Brooklyn. In 2005, she started to narrow down her color spectrum to teal, white, black and rust and in 2009 she reintroduced collage and this element created a real conversation that keeps evolving.

The Hudson Milliner Art Salon