Janet McKenzie is a painter internationally renowned for her emotionally compelling and diverse iconography honoring all people - her paintings challenge prejudice and hate. Her inclusive art is regularly carried in vigils and protest demonstrations across the country in support of Black Lives Matter, racial justice and the rights of women, immigrants and the LGBTQ community. In 2016 her art was carried in the Women's March in Washington DC and a large image of Jesus of the People was placed at the Memorial to George Floyd in Minneapolis, June 2020. McKenzie's Jesus of the People was selected First Place Winner of the National Catholic Reporter's global competition Jesus 2000 by Juror, Sr. Wendy Beckett, of BBC fame. Revealed for the first time on the Today Show her controversial interpretation, modeled by an African American woman, created a firestorm of hateful and threatening responses. Over the course of 20 years this work has generated needed discussions on race and gender. Jesus of the People continues to move in the world where called serving as an image of hope and justice, and carried forward by those knowing the unique strength and importance of art as activism. Jesus of the People has been featured on banners up and down Michigan Avenue, Chicago, stretched outside churches of all faith traditions across the country , featured in print all over the world and during these hateful times, used as an image of reflection, Visio Divina, online through Zoom gatherings.
Holiness and the Feminine Spirit - The Art of Janet McKenzie was the 2010 First Place Award Winner for Spirituality from the Catholic Press Association. Her 15 Stations of the Cross are featured in The Way of the Cross - the Path to New Life, a collaboration with writer and prophetic voice in the American Church, Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB. Naming God, a collaboration with Rev. Jan Berry and published by the United Reformed Church, London, UK, honors the LGBTQ community. A book signing of Holiness and the Feminine Spirit - the Art of Janet McKenzie took place during Melba's Author Series, New Orleans, Feb. 2020.
Janet McKenzie's solo exhibitions include: Radical Courage and the Feminine Spirit at The Sheen Center for Thought and Culture, NYC, The Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee, Loyola University Museum of Art, Chicago, Carlow University, Pittsburgh and Clinique Ste. Therese, Luxembourg City, among others. She was invited to be the 2013 William Belden Noble Lecturer, Memorial Church, Harvard University.
Janet McKenzie was a presenter at the 2019 Universal Christ Conference, Albuquerque, NM held at the Albuquerque Convention Center, sponsored by the Center for Action and Contemplation founded by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM. She spoke before 2300 attendees with another 2800 webcasting - 20 inclusive paintings were featured in a dramatic darkened entrance, serving as a quiet transitional space of reflection.
Jesus of the People 20th Anniversary Exhibit and courageous conversation celebrating the work of artist Janet McKenzie, First Methodist Church, Burlington, VT, with panel discussion on racism, Dec. 2019.
Mary - Mother of Enduring Love was commissioned for The Virgin Mary Devotional Space within the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at the University of Dayton, Dayton, OH, 2015. The only work of art in this intimate space, McKenzie's interpretation is dark and inclusive. Mary stands with closed eyes and outstretched arms maternally inviting everyone to her, unconditionally.
The Divine Journey - Companions of Love and Hope, a painting honoring Mary and Jesus as foundational figures around which diverse women gather, was commissioned by Memorial Church, Harvard University, 2017. The Divine Journey - a Painter's Mission, a documentary produced by Memorial Church and filmed at the artist's studio in Vermont reflects on the commission and the creation of Jesus of the People. The documentary includes statements by The Reverend Jonathan Walton, former Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister of the Memorial Church, Harvard University, the artist's son Simeon McKenzie Geigel, model for the painting, Amy Robinson and Janet McKenzie.
Janet McKenzie was born in New York City, studied at the Art Students League of NY and was one of the youngest recipients of the Edward McDowell Traveling Scholarship which provided a year in Europe to study and travel. She has received Artist Development Grants and a Fellowship from the Vermont Arts Council and the NEA, among other awards. She currently lives and works in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont.