Jania Vanderwerff



Painting of an angel bust with wings with America flag draped across the waist

Detail, Refuge, oil on canvas, 2001. Photo by Jania Vanderwerff

I began to demonstrate the visual language of painting at an early age. My father taught me how to stretch canvas and he handcrafted my first easel. While raising four kids, my work consisted of exposing them to culture and painting murals on their nursery walls.

September 11, 2001, tore the word terrorism from the dictionary and stapled it on our hearts. The horror played out on our TV screens seemed unreal, as if it was Hollywood’s latest box office release. I began distilling the information from the news to my sketchbook.

When New York was devastated by the tragedy, I was compelled to offer compassion. And I couldn’t trust that the art world could be kept waiting for my work any longer. Responding to an open call for art, I translated the sketches onto a 12”x12” canvas. Refuge became my contribution to a worldwide collaborative project commemorating 9/11.

Participating in the Unity Canvas was an important chapter for my artistic soul.  I am humbly grateful to have had the opportunity to come along side and for my lifelong path of being an artist.

Congratulations on your 50th anniversary, Celebrate culture!