Janna van Welsem is a student at BEAR, ArtEZ, currently in her graduation year. She grew up in the south of the Netherlands and moved to Arnhem to study in order to become an independent artist. But during these past four years, she realized that this isn’t such an independent practice; that connecting within a network of artists is essential and that an artist can work for something bigger than themselves. However, the network within the academy – and beyond – appeared to be quite asymmetrical and these kinds of institutions appeared to contain power structures that are difficult to navigate, where gender and cultural differences are not addressed extensively enough.
In School of Missing Men, and especially the Social Inclusion Workshops which she curated at ArtEZ with LI Yuchen, Janna works on ways to address or navigate these topics, including privilege, assertive communication, cultural appropriation and institutional critique. Within her work – tactile installations of textiles, ceramics and other media – Janna researches the potential of skin as a concept, and has learned that the way we interact with the world around us is of great influence, which brings us a responsibility that we should consider very carefully.