Janiva Ellis

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Janiva Ellis
EducationCalifornia College of the Arts
Known forPainter

Janiva Ellis (born 1987, Oakland, California) is an American painter based in Brooklyn, NY and Los Angeles, CA.[1] Ellis often makes figurative paintings that explore the African-American female experience.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Oakland, California, Ellis moved to Hawaii at the age of 7, moving back and forth between the islands of Kauai and Oahu.[3] Raised solely by her white mother, in a state with a very small black population, Ellis uses her art practice to investigate and examine the complex racial dynamic of her upbringing.[3] Ellis studied painting at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, graduating in 2012.[3]

Artistic Practice[edit]

Ellis describes her paintings as “not only an attempt to communicate to nonblack women my experience, but also to call to other black women, ‘Do you feel this, too?’”[2] Critics have commended Ellis for the psychoanalytic tension in her paintings.[4] Occasionally, the paintings incorporate religious symbology; such as lambs or angels, referencing the canon of religious painting.[4] In 2017, Ellis presented "Lick Shot" at 47 Canal, her first solo show in New York City.[5] In 2018, Ellis participated in the New Museum Triennial - “Songs for Sabotage.”[4] Ellis is set to show in the 2019 Whitney Biennial curated by Rujeko Hockley and Jane Panetta.[1]

Selected Exhibition History[edit]

  • 2019 - Whitney Biennial 2019, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York[1]
  • 2018 - Triennial: “Songs for Sabotage” - New Museum, New York, New York[6]
  • 2018 - “Painting: Now & Forever, Part III” - Greene Naftali, New York, New York[7]
  • 2017 - "Lick Shot” - 47 Canal, New York, New York[5]
  • 2017 - "Prick Up Your Ears” - Karma International, Los Angeles, California[8]
  • 2017 - "You Catch More Flies With Arsenic Than Honey” - Club Pro, Los Angeles, California[9]


  • Rema Hort Mann Foundation Grant, 2018[10]
  • Stanley Hollander Award, 2018[11]


  1. ^ a b c "Whitney Biennial 2019". whitney.org.
  2. ^ a b Sheets, Hilarie M. (2 February 2018). "Meet Six Disrupters at the New Museum's Triennial". The New York Times.
  3. ^ a b c Brown, Laura. "X-TRA". www.x-traonline.org.
  4. ^ a b c Cortbett, Rachel (13 February 2018). "5 Young Stars-in-the-Making From the New Museum's 'Songs for Sabotage' Triennial". artnet News.
  5. ^ a b "Janiva Ellis "Lick Shot" at 47 Canal, New York •". Mousse Magazine (in Italian). 16 July 2017.
  6. ^ "2018 Triennial: Songs for Sabotage". www.newmuseum.org.
  7. ^ "Janiva Ellis (Contemporary Art Daily)". www.contemporaryartdaily.com.
  8. ^ Heinrich, Will (Aug 31, 2017). "What to See in Los Angeles Art Galleries This Week". New York Times.
  9. ^ "Proceed with caution: finding hope in the perils of You Catch More Flies with Arsenic Than Honey". 20 February 2017.
  10. ^ "Janiva Ellis – Rema Hort Mann Foundation".
  11. ^ "Rema Hort Mann Foundation Announces 2018 Emerging Artist Grantees for Los Angeles". www.artforum.com.

External links[edit]