General 10-4-2006

MCAD/Jerome Artists 2005-06: Janet Lobberecht

Essays by Kristin Makholm, MCAD Gallery Director and Program Director, MCAD/Jerome Foundation Fellowships for Emerging Artists

Janet Lobberecht
Janet Lobberecht

Janet Lobberecht

With titles such as Trouble Trouble and Trouble Troubles You or I Want You, I Need You, but There Ain’t No Way I’m Ever Gonna Love You, Janet Lobberecht’s work takes on a twinge of obsessive neuroticism or, at the very least, makes you wonder what her love life is like. Her collaged drawings reflect this confessional outburst: repetitive mantras of the text-title strewn over paper like a punishment at school detention; offbeat collage elements such as wire, industrial shelving material and plastic doilies—in short, all the found and concocted detritus of a well-stocked studio and imagination. Whether viewed from a distance or up close, each of Lobberecht’s acrylic and ink drawings gives the impression of a natural phenomenon—a storm, a tornado or a tidal wave, swirling out of control through color, movement and texture: a living, breathing thing.

This organic sense of life hinges on two very important aspects of Lobberecht’s artwork: nature and memory. Plants and biological growth are the stuff of Lobberecht’s day job as a gardener and landscape designer. Designing, planting, watering, seeing what lives and what dies, adapting a plan to the vagaries of the weather and the soil; all influence a sense of resilience and adaptability that is essential to gardening. Lobberecht’s drawings depend, too, on this feeling of organic growth, on juxtaposition and change and repetition signaling a continually morphing composition. Sections of drawings often disengage to become part of a new work; bits and pieces appear and disappear; some never return. Each drawing is like a garden that takes on a life of its own.

The same could be said for memory, our muddled pasts and the way our experiences often seem like cut-and-paste collages of longings, fulfillments and regrets. Like a well-laid garden, Lobberecht wonders how memories are made and tended, and how we separate the wheat from the chaff in our private cosmologies. Rock ’n’ roll lyrics (I Want You, I Need You, but There Ain’t No Way I’m Ever Gonna Love You is taken from a song by Meat Loaf), toy characters dear to her young daughter, wire decorations from her occasional job as a floral designer—all are materials, images and references that resonate with Lobberecht’s distant and immediate past.

Performance and installation are also integral to Lobberecht’s work. She assembles her work on site, adding and subtracting components and allowing parts to shoot upward and off the wall. A performer herself, she values the interactive, protean aspects of art-making and never really knows or cares when a work is actually “complete.” For Lobberecht, it isn’t the final act or ultimate destination that counts, but rather the journey that we take through life—the simple joy of, as another title recalls, “stepping into the same river twice.” (K.M.)