Janet Hansen artist

Finding My Way

My intention to pursue art was expressed at an early age. For a kindergarten assignment, I drew my adult self as an artist with a paintbrush, in front of an easel. (I'm amused that I also saw myself having a receptionist in the front office, presumably dealing with the business and administrative side so I could focus on the art). I began sewing around age five or six, and I made doll clothes and decorated dollhouses with miniature replicas of household items, including a few battery-powered lights.

As I got older, my interest in science and engineering grew. I enjoyed shop class and biology as much as home economics, and was thrilled to earn a first place medal in the California state science fair. My favorite projects generally involved building something, or documenting and explaining the work in an artistic way. 

In college, I accumulated degrees and work experience in a range of technical fields: semiconductor manufacturing, robotics, finite element analysis, biomechanics, and aerospace engineering. I continued creating art, through painting, sculpture, stained glass, neon, ceramics, and upholstery. I also spent a ridiculous amount of time making elaborate Halloween costumes.

Eventually, I realized I could merge most of my interests into a career making illuminated clothing and other forms of light-up art. I quit my engineering day job, and immersed myself into the world of fabric-mounted electronics. The techniques I use now are the result of 25+ years of experimenting with materials, developing custom hardware and software, and to some degree, waiting for things that did not yet exist (like RGB LEDs!). 

My “canvases” are arrays of LEDs embedded in fabrics and other structures, and I “paint” by manipulating coded algorithms, but my inner five year old approves of this direction. 

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