Gigi Janko (b. 2002) graduated at 17 from Bard College at Simon’s Rock, with a BA in Dance and Ceramics. She also attended Gibney's Prof. Training Prog. NYC as well as WGU for computer science. In '20, she moved to Wellsville, Ohio, taking ownership of a derelict compound: a former church, rectory, and convent. The same year, she joined the Wellsville Vol. Fire Dept. Over the next few years, she tore down 6 houses by hand, by herself. In '23 she completed a 20000 sq ft installation. Among others, Steven Litt wrote about her work in the Cleveland Plain Dealer/Cleveland.com in July ‘23. She teaches art at the JCC in Youngstown, OH.
Wellsville, OH (pop. 3,336) was hit hard by globalization, deindustrialization, and the opioid epidemic. On the banks of the Ohio River, the village suffers from disappointment running rampant, turned inwards on itself. Janko notes an unexpected consequence of working in the midst of polarization: “I have brought the question of ‘what is art?’ to the ‘Ville.”
Gigi Janko collects and invents materials to construct conceptual sculptures and installations. Embracing the context embedded in items, she creates cultural webs as she manipulates physical forms. Her work is laborious and time-consuming, even tedious. A hallmark of her artistic practice is an extreme investment of manual labor. She is invested in the process of making things become the Thing. With a strong background in performing arts, she is always aware of the temporal qualities of materials and the power of injecting oneself into experience-rich atmospheres.
By guiding her inspirations through various phases of development, Janko orchestrates ambitious installations. First investing in a semi-performative lifestyle proximal to the area of interest, she allows direction to come from the materials she collects. The next step is when scavenging commences, and the identity of the piece begins to show itself in both physical and experiential facets.
Most recently her work explores mental health and autobiography mixed with an exploration of place, contending with her desires to make more personally vulnerable work.