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Janiva Ellis

American, b. 1987

449 followers

Janiva Ellis

Bio

American, b. 1987

Followers
449

Notable Works

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Biography

In works that charm and unsettle, Janiva Ellis repurposes the familiar pictorial language of cartoons to present unflinching examinations of psychological suffering. The Los Angeles-based painter grew up in Hawaii, often feeling isolated as a young black woman, and her work creates a space for earnest narratives of African American female experiences. In bright pastoral scenes interrupted by anti-black violence, Ellis calls attention to the trauma and absurdity of casual racial discrimination. Ellis’ work unpacks pernicious assumptions about black identity and exclusions of black narratives, surfacing a problematic cultural precedent for pleasure at the expense of black pain. “To me, my images aren’t any more violent than many everyday interactions. Any more anguished than they are obliged. The unrest in my work represents a release, a shared sardonic moment of tension and amusement.”

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Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Group
Group show at a major institution
New Museum
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
ArtReview
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Whitney Biennial, and 1 more
Biography

In works that charm and unsettle, Janiva Ellis repurposes the familiar pictorial language of cartoons to present unflinching examinations of psychological suffering. The Los Angeles-based painter grew up in Hawaii, often feeling isolated as a young black woman, and her work creates a space for earnest narratives of African American female experiences. In bright pastoral scenes interrupted by anti-black violence, Ellis calls attention to the trauma and absurdity of casual racial discrimination. Ellis’ work unpacks pernicious assumptions about black identity and exclusions of black narratives, surfacing a problematic cultural precedent for pleasure at the expense of black pain. “To me, my images aren’t any more violent than many everyday interactions. Any more anguished than they are obliged. The unrest in my work represents a release, a shared sardonic moment of tension and amusement.”

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Group
Group show at a major institution
New Museum
Publication
Reviewed by a major art publication
ArtReview
Fair
Included in a major biennial
Whitney Biennial, and 1 more
Articles Featuring Janiva Ellis
8 Collectors and Curators Share the Art on Their Holiday Wish Lists
Nov 26th, 2019
8 Collectors and Curators Share the Art on Their Holiday Wish Lists
Amid Controversy, the Whitney Biennial Plays It Safe
May 14th, 2019
Amid Controversy, the Whitney Biennial Plays It Safe
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