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Local art gallery showcases Janice Essick's work

Interact, a studio in St. Paul for artists with disabilities has been Essick's creative home since 2005.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Janice Essick is an artist at Interact, a studio in St. Paul for artists with disabilities. It's been her creative home since 2005. 

"I like my artwork," says Essick.

In just one week, Janice can easily make two to three pieces of artwork. 

"She says over and over again that she just wants to create art," said Simone Needles, a visual arts instructor and arts advocate at Interact.

Her passion is something the other artists notice.

"She is constantly creating and really immerses herself in her work. From the time she comes in, she is drawing or painting until the very end of the day," said Needles.

That passion landed her a chance to showcase some of her best work at Interact's new gallery. Her first solo exhibit in 17 years, with a picture-perfect name: "This is a Picture that Janice Made."

"I think it's great. I like it," said Essick.

Some of the inspiration for her pieces come from her younger life. 

"She used to ride horses when she was younger, so it harkens back to this confident time for her," said Needles.

Other times, landscapes and cityscapes captivate her. Current events also inspire her work, like the murder of George Floyd and the unrest that followed. 

"I didn't like what they did to him. I drew pictures of it, what happened. I saw it on TV," said Essick.

Needles says as Janice created the pieces about George Floyd's death, they talked about it, and Janice would also take time to create work that uplifted her soul.

Janice isn't the only one getting strokes of inspiration. Her work is also moving others. Needles says other artists can connect with the color choices or the brush strokes in Janice's work.

"I like doing what I'm doing. I'm just gone keep coloring and using markers," said Essick.

Janice also has artwork featured in an online gallery. More than 50% of her pieces have sold. 

You can see Janice's work again in July during the Uniquinox: Tarot Alive exhibit. This time, in collaboration with other Interact artists.

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