Michael Janis

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Michael Janis
Janis in 2008
Born (1959-10-11) October 11, 1959 (age 63)
OccupationGlass artist
Known forsgraffito technique on glass
AwardsFulbright scholar 2012
Michael Janis, "Echoes"; kilnformed glass, glass sgraffito imagery, 2015.

Michael Janis (born 1959) is an American artist currently residing in Washington, DC where he is one of the directors of the Washington Glass School. He is known[1] for his work on glass using the exceptionally difficult sgraffito technique on glass.[2][3]

Janis was a 2012 Fulbright scholar[4] and as such he taught at the University of Sunderland in England, where he also taught at the UK's National Glass Centre, and also became an artist-in-residence at the Institute for International Research in Glass (IIRG). The James Renwick Alliance named him Distinguished Glass Artist for 2014,[5] and subsequently Janis presented a talk about his work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum.[5] In 2016, Janis was nominated and won[6] the Washington, DC Mayor's Arts Award for Excellence in the Arts.[6] He has also received eight separate District of Columbia Commission on the Arts and Humanities' Artist Fellowship awards,[7][8][9][10][11] most recently in FY 2022.

Washington, DC news organization, The DC Line, published an article about Janis titled “Art during COVID-19”. The article focused on how the pandemic changed his studio practice and artwork, highlighting the universal need for connections. "[12]

Early life and education[edit]

Michael Janis was born in Chicago on October 11, 1959, the youngest son of Paul and Alicia Janis. His mother is of Filipino, Chinese and Spanish ancestry, and his father is of German and Greek descent.[13] Janis’ family moved soon after to suburban Niles, Illinois. He attended Maine East High School in Park Ridge, Illinois. After a 20-year career as an architect in the United States and Australia, Janis returned to the US in 2003 with a focus on working with glass. In 2005, he became a co-director of the Washington Glass School.[14][15]

Critical reception and awards[edit]

  • Florida Art Glass Alliance’s Emerging Artist Award in 2009.[16]
  • Bay Area Glass Institute’s 2010 Saxe Fellowship.[17]
  • Named a “Rising Star” at the Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center in 2011.[18]
  • The James Renwick Alliance, in the awarding the 2014 Distinguished Glass Artist award, and in reference to Janis' sgrafitto technique, wrote that "his mastery of this difficult technique shows itself in the dreamlike images which he creates by 'drawing' with frit powders upon glass..."[19]
  • In a review of a Janis solo show in 2016, The Washington Post called his work and use of sgraffito technique "extraordinary."[20]
  • That same show was described by American art critic Dr. Claudia Rousseau as being "from both a technical and subjective viewpoint this is a striking show."[21]
  • The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette postulated about his work having a "Janus quality that suggests the conflict between one’s public face and internal being."[22]
  • The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review added in 2015 that Janis "creates glass pieces with visual and spatial depth that are 'inspired by ways we transform ourselves'..."[23]
  • In describing the 2016 Mayor's Arts Awards for Excellence in the Art, Washington, DC mayor Muriel Browser noted the "incredible contributions of these individuals and organizations to the arts community in the District."[6]
  • In both a 2017 magazine article[24] and associated television show on Maryland Public Television, American art critic Shawn Waggoner described Janis as a "translator of the subconscious... [who] creates intricate glass powder drawings that ask questions rather than answer them."[24]
  • In 2018 Prince George’s Arts & Humanities Council awarded Janis an Artist Fellowship.[25]
  • 2019 Maryland’s Goucher College series on Contemporary Glass Art described him as “one of the finest glass artists working in the field today”.[26]
  • The James Renwick Alliance selected Michael Janis' artwork on exhibit in the Artomatic 2.0 art fair for an award of excellence in the craft field, noting the introduction of social commentary to his sgraffito imagery in glass.[27]
  • In 2021, both the Detroit News and the Detroit Metro Times highlighted the long-distance collaboration between Janis and artist Tony Porto for the exhibition titled “Not Grandma’s Glass.”[28][29]

Public art / commissioned artworks[edit]

  • 2003 Lobby Sculpture, 1301 K Street Building, Washington, DC
  • 2004 Outdoor Park Sculpture and Site Artworks, The Residences of Rosedale, Bethesda, MD
  • 2005 Lobby Sculpture, Hatfield Clinical Research Center, National Institute of Health (NIH) Bethesda, MD
  • 2005 Marlboro Courthouse Lobby Sculpture, Prince George's County, MD
  • 2005 Sculpture A New World View, Baltimore Science Museum, Baltimore, MD
  • 2006 Outdoor Park Sculpture - Liberty Plaza, Arlington, VA
  • 2006 Woodman Residence, Washington, DC
  • 2006 Wilson Building Public Art Collection, Washington, DC
  • 2006 Contemporary Glass Craft Display, Luce Foundation Center for American Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
  • 2006 Palomar Hotel Lobby Sculpture, Washington, DC
  • 2008 Outdoor Park Sculpture – Liberty Center, Arlington, VA
  • 2009 Outdoor Sculpture - Upper Marlboro Courthouse, Prince George’s County, MD
  • 2010 Vanderbilt University - Critical Care Tower, Nashville, TN
  • 2011 Safeway Inc – Public Artwork for new LEED Certified Building, Bethesda, MD
  • 2013 Library of Congress – Cast Glass Doors for the John Adams Building, Washington, DC[30][3]
  • 2014 DC Commission On The Arts & Humanities – Outdoor Public Art Sculpture, Unity Parkside Healthcare Facility, Washington, DC
  • 2014 Fallen Heroes Memorial, Montgomery County Judicial Center, Rockville, MD
  • 2014 Safeway Inc– Public Artwork for New Supermarket, Alexandria, VA
  • 2015 Wisconsin Avenue Building Lobby, Bethesda, MD
  • 2016 Laurel Library Public Art, Laurel, MD[31]
  • 2017 Public Artwork Sculptures for West Palm Beach Int’l Airport – West Palm Beach, FL
  • 2018 William Beanes Community Center Public Art, Suitland, MD
  • 2020 Peppermill Village Community Center Public Art, Landover, MD[32]
  • 2020 900 Thayer Avenue Public Art, Silver Spring, MD[33]
  • 2020 Inova Schar Cancer Institute Recognition Wall, Fairfax, VA[34]
  • 2021 “Essential Connections”, J-Sol Apartment Complex, Arlington, VA[35]


Janis has exhibited a 2011 solo show at The Fuller Craft Museum in Massachusetts,[36] as well as the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center, Portsmouth, VA,[37] the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, VA,[38] Ohio Craft Museum, Columbus, OH,[39] Salisbury University, Salisbury, MD,[25] Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago, IL,[40] Sunderland Museum, Sunderland, England,[41] Flemish Center for Contemporary Glass Art, Lommel, Belgium,[42] National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center Gallery, Bethesda, MD,[25] Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL,[43] and Lynchburgh College, VA.[44] In 2021 he was one of the artists invited to The Phillips Collection's juried invitational, Inside Outside, Upside Down exhibition, a show that was described by The Washington City Paper art critic as forcing "us to remember a time that left us 'confused, battered, and disoriented' through the eyes of 64 D.C.-area artists."[45]

Tacoma, Washington’s, Museum of Glass acquired three glass sculptures by Janis for their permanent collection; first displaying his works in 2022 exhibit titled “Boundless Curiosity”. "[46]

At the 2022 collateral exhibition Glasstress of the 59th Venice Biennale of Arts by Adriano Berengo, A special collaborative sculpture work by Tim Tate, Michael Janis and Chris Shea was installed in Berengo Studio's Art Space in Murano, an old glass making furnace abandoned in 1965 and transformed into an exhibition space. The show's large central cast glass and copper sculpture by the trio presented themes on climate change denial. [47]


  1. ^ Baron, Jennifer (2015-09-14). "Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art". NEXTpittsburgh. Retrieved 2019-01-14.
  2. ^ Ritzel, Rebecca (April–May 2013). "Becoming Michael Janis". American Craft Magazine.
  3. ^ a b Hanus, Price, Julie, Perry (June–July 2013). "Capital Improvements". American Craft Magazine.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ "Michael Janis | Fulbright Scholar Program". www.cies.org. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  5. ^ a b "JRA Distinguished Artist Talk with Glass Artist Michael Janis". Smithsonian American Art Museum. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  6. ^ a b c "Mayor Muriel Bowser Announces Winners of Annual Mayor's Arts Awards | dcarts". dcarts.dc.gov. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  7. ^ "FY14 Grant Awardees - Artist Fellowship Program | dcarts". dcarts.dc.gov. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  8. ^ "FY 2015 Ward Report" (PDF). dcarts.dc.gov. DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  9. ^ "FY16 Grant Awardees - Artist Fellowship Program | dcarts". dcarts.dc.gov. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  10. ^ "FY17 Grant Awardees - Arts and Humanities Fellowship Program (AHFP) | dcarts". dcarts.dc.gov. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  11. ^ "FY22 Grant Awardees - Arts and Humanities Fellowship Program (AHFP) | dcarts". dcarts.dc.gov. Retrieved 2021-11-06.
  12. ^ Janis, Michael (November 20, 2020). "Art during COVID-19: Empty studios, canceled classes highlight the universal need for connections". thedcline.org.
  13. ^ Jones, Poly Nell. "Layered Stories", p. 39-43. Élan Magazine, Virginia, July 2011.
  14. ^ Lawrence, Lee (June 2006). "Filling Glass With Meaning". American Style Magazine. Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  15. ^ Herman, Beth (July 2011). "Two Artists and an Architect Walk Into a Bar…". DCmud.
  16. ^ "Michael Janis". POSIT: A Journal of Literature and Art. December 2013.
  17. ^ "Michael Janis". BAGI - Bay Area Glass Institute. Retrieved 2019-01-14.
  18. ^ "Michael Janis | Art Alliance for Contemporary Glass". contempglass.org. January 2013.
  19. ^ "Michael Janis and Akio Takamori Finish 2013-2014 Distinguished Artists Series". James Renwick Alliance Quarterly: 15. Winter–Spring 2014.
  20. ^ Jenkins, Mark (October 8, 2016). "In the galleries: Conversations between mother and daughter, teacher and student". The Washington Post.
  21. ^ Rousseau, Claudia (September 28, 2016). "Michael Janis at Maurine Littleton Gallery Echoes of Leaves and Shadows". East City News.
  22. ^ Thomas, M. (March 16, 2016). "'Mindful' exhibition facilitates dialogue about mental health through artwork". The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  23. ^ Shaw, Kurt (September 16, 2015). "Society for Contemporary Craft exhibit uses art to touch on mental-health issues". The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
  24. ^ a b Waggoner, Shawn (Jan–Feb 2017). "Independent Artist Michael Janis A Smart Balance of Personal and Public Art". Glass Art Magazine.
  25. ^ a b c "MICHAEL JANIS". Maryland State Arts Council. 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2019-02-13.
  26. ^ "Contemporary Glass Art - Goucher College". goucher.edu. 2019-09-24. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
  27. ^ "jra-news/top-10-in-craft-artomatic-20". JRA.ORG Media. Retrieved 2020-08-03.
  28. ^ Tasker, Greg. "'Not Grandma's Glass' reimagines artform that pushes envelope". The Detroit News. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  29. ^ "This Is Not Grandma's Glass". Detroit Metro Times. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  30. ^ "John Adams Building Monumental Door Replacement". Architect of the Capitol. Retrieved 2019-01-14.
  31. ^ Philip, Lisa (May 24, 2016). "Laurel residents create 'community quilt' of glass for new library". The Baltimore Sun.
  32. ^ "Peppermill Community Center Public Art | Washington Glass Studio". 10 October 2019.
  33. ^ "Washington's Ethiopia Glass | Downtown Silver Spring, MD".
  34. ^ "Arts & Healing at Inova Schar Cancer Institute | Washington Glass Studio". 9 July 2019.
  35. ^ "The Process: Public Art – "Essential Connections" in Arlington, VA". 21 Sep 2021.
  36. ^ "Fuller Craft Museum Presents a Lighter Hand: The Glass Drawings of Michael Janis". artdaily.org. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  37. ^ "Embracing Narrative: Artwork of the Washington Glass School and the Virginia Glass Guild" (PDF). Resources.Chrysler.org. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  38. ^ "'Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art' at Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art". ArtNews.com. 14 March 2017. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  39. ^ Stangebye, Hailey (2016-07-07). "Ohio Craft Museum hosts exhibit on mental illness July 10". CityScene Magazine. Retrieved 2019-02-13.
  40. ^ "Ceramics/Glass / Ukrainian Institute of Modern... – Ceramics Now". www.ceramicsnow.org. 10 December 2013. Retrieved 2019-02-13.
  41. ^ "Artist: Michael Janis - Habatat Galleries". Retrieved 2019-02-13.
  42. ^ "Belgian exhibition juxtaposes historic works with glass panels". UrbanGlass.org. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  43. ^ "Michael Janis". The Art Institute of Chicago. Retrieved 2019-02-13.
  44. ^ SCHKLOVEN, EMMA. "Lynchburg College exhibit explores mental health through art". NewsAdvance.com. Retrieved 2019-01-14.
  45. ^ "City Lights: Inside Outside, Upside Down: 64 Artists Opine on 2020 - WCP". Washington City Paper. 2021-08-09. Retrieved 2022-01-27.
  46. ^ "Museum of Glass Acquires and Exhibits Works by Washington Glass School Directors". East City Art. 2022-03-21. Retrieved 2022-03-22.
  47. ^ "Venice, Glasstress: the great challenge of glass with international stars". CorrieredelVeneto.it (in Italian). 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2022-11-15.

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