Janelle VanderKelen is an artist, curator, and educator currently based in Milwaukee, WI. Her films and intermedia installations imagine alternative acts of relation between imperfect bodies (human, vegetal, geologic, or otherwise) and make visible the agency of plants through experimental animation processes. Recent shorts like A Valley Without Trees or Language Unknown focus on possible interspecies communication models.
Janelle co-curates a monthly non-profit screening series called aCinema with Takahiro Suzuki and teaches video and animation at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.
Janelle's films have screened at institutions and festivals including Bow Arts in London; Athens International Film + Video Festival; Revelation Perth International Film Festival; and Antimatter [Media Art] Festival.
During her time at MacDowell, Janelle animated scenes for a feature length film titled "The Golden Thread" which focused on ideas of plant sentience and repositioned ecological responsibility as acts of community relation. It draws inspiration from the writings and biography of Hildegard von Bingen, a 12th century protofeminist naturalist. The work highlights the crisis of exploitative anthropogenic soil exhaustion.
VanderKelen was awarded the Mary L. Nohl Artist Fellowship in 2023 and will continue to make visible the agency of plants through time-based media processes during a 2024 artist residency at the Grand Canyon.