by caro mikalef
As ‘Flower Power’ was the slogan used by hippies in the late sixties and early seventies to symbolize the ideology of peaceful resistance and non-violence, we could call Janno’s latest work ’a flower power exhibition.’
It's evident that the viewer will find a diversity of flowers in the paintings, ranging from large-scale and total abstraction to more detailed and iconic representations. However, the power of these flowers doesn't only lie in their exploited beauty, visceral brushstrokes following the rhythm of the music she plays while painting, nor in the vibrant palettes.
Similar to the ‘Flower Power’, which originated in 1960s California as a protest movement against the Vietnam War, Janno's Unsprung flowers serve as her form of protest against the Russian invasion and the triggering of war in Ukraine.
Protest can take many forms—violent, angry, and private—but it can also be peaceful, affirmative, public, and inclusive. Let's remember a prototypical scene: a protester offering a flower to military police during an anti-Vietnam War demonstration in Arlington, Virginia, on October 21, 1967, or a Ukrainian grandmother handing a pocketful of sunflower seeds to a young Russian soldier in the early days of the invasion. These acts may seem naive, but upon reflection, can there be a more defiant act than reinventing conflict resolution outside the horrendous ease of war?
Though often underestimated, art and music have always proposed alternatives, revealing the forms of pain while demonstrating the possibility of creating artistic pieces, music, films, or photography that challenge us and raise awareness, guiding us towards committing to human well-being. These creative expressions become powerful tools, enabling us to sustain the present and build a better future.
‘Unsprung,’ Janno’s response-protest, is a beautiful and committed work. Janno tirelessly paints in her studio during the late or early hours. Simultaneously, her project #SunflowerquiltforUkraine, an art installation consisting of a giant patchwork quilt made of more than 5,000 patches received from all around the world, continues its journey across continents with the ultimate goal of being exhibited all over Ukraine as a signpost toward peace.
Patches for the sunflower quilt for Ukraine continue to arrive in Janno’s post box from around the world and from Ukraine, expressing gratitude from the makers for the commitment and hope of peace and healing that the quilt radiates.
Amidst all this, Janno attends to the daily challenges of a quirky domestic life, taking care of her child with autism, juggling the needs of each of her kids and family—joyful, energetic, playing music and dancing while she is painting, each of these activities becomes her daily training to strengthen the spirit and soul.
A philosopher named Marelin Thornton proposed: ‘What you feel is all that matters because all that matters is made of what you feel.’ We will discover what Janno feels and her form of resilience. Some individuals possess an energy that withstands any challenge, an urge for color and movement that can endure any pain. This is the case with ‘Unsprung,’ charging those batteries that are the driving force behind coping with the most demanding or painful aspects of the surrounding reality. Continually proposing an alternative way out, a form of personal and universal support, the flowers, shapes, colors, and textures of this artwork, with their most personal instances of Janno’s world symbolism—personified gorillas, elephants, kangaroos, and the needy nature—all these are essential elements to be embraced by that force that animates and inspires.
‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed,
it’s the only thing that ever has,’ wrote Margaret Mead. ‘Unsprung’ and #SunflowerquiltforUkraine are testimonies of someone who aspires to change the world. We need more individuals like that,
and Janno’s 'Unsprung' offers us all an opportunity to find inspiration in this transformative challenge.