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James Janknegt: “You can’t paint sanitized, Sunday school art…”

James Janknegt
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"It's part of the deal, if you're gonna be an artist, to be as honest as you can."

 

Your pieces move from dark and lonely to radiant after your remarriage and conversion to Catholicism — that shift that you define as going from “diagnostic to celebratory.” But even in the “celebratory” stage, there is drama, even agony, along with ecstasy in your pieces.

 

Foxes Have Holes/James Janknegt

 

When I was involved in that youth group, they were very super-spiritual, filled with the Holy Spirit, thinking, “Now we can do everything!”

 

Summer Still Life/James Janknegt

 

But we never looked internally to see if there are psychological problems alongside your spiritual life. My dad was bipolar and manic depressive, in and out of mental institutions and jail. I met a woman at that Jesus freak outfit, and we got married. I carried a lot of baggage into my first marriage, that I hadn’t dealt with at all. I went to grad school and my marriage fell apart.

 

Breakdown/James Janknegt

 

Getting divorced ripped the lid off. All this stuff I had repressed was all bubbling up and coming to the fore. Questioning not my faith, but my ability to be faithful. Can I hear Him and be obedient to Him and do His will? It was a very dark time.

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