That punk rock girl you see hopping the fence and slogging through mud in order to snap a photograph of rusted metal– that’s Charity Janisse of Punk Rock Girl Art. She has a passion for all things creative: art, photography, poetry, and music. Grab your flyer and your combat boots and head for the stage because up next is the art of a punk rock girl.
Morpheus // What happens when punk rock meets art?
Charity // One of my favorite quotes about punk rock is this one from Patti Smith: “To me, punk rock is the freedom to create, freedom to be successful, freedom to not be successful, freedom to be who you are. It’s freedom.”
Basically that’s how I feel about my artwork. I don’t care if people like it or not. I don’t care if people buy it or not, I make what I make for me, to express myself, to express my individuality and my perspective, that’s all. I began taking pictures of rusty dumpsters and presenting them as abstract art because I saw a unique beauty there and I wanted to show it to other people and also because I was sick to death of pictures of palm trees and skies. I wanted to do something different and I wanted to show others that art can be found anywhere, I wanted to make people question their own idea about what true art should be.
Another favorite quote is by Henry Rollins: “Questioning anything and everything, to me, is punk rock.”
Is it art, is it not art, can art truly be found on the side of a dumpster…? Questions. I like to push boundaries, raise questions, but mostly just express myself even if people hate what I do, I love it and that’s how punk rock and art together as far I’m concerned.
If your art was a punk rock song, what song would it be?
“Punk Rock Girl” by The Dead Milkmen of course. One of the reasons I call my art “Punk Rock Girl Art” is because that’s me. I spent the 90’s with a Mohawk, thigh high black boots and fishnets – working in a coffee shop, marching for Green Peace, dancing on the table at Goth Warehouse Clubs, making outwith my blue haired girlfriend on street corners and generally causing a scene wherever I went. I saw Blondie with The Ramones, 7 Seconds, Social Distortion etc. Slam danced at the G.B.H., Agnostic Front show and spent the hours after school crammed into my best friends Gold Mustang with 8 other punks, blasting Suicidal Tendencies as we were cruising downtown Cincinnati and Over the Rhine simply because our parents told us not to go there. As I grew up I did not give up the punk rock life style and continued to live exactly as I chose… I refused to work a standard 40 hour a week job and instead chose a career in the arts even though it has been a tough as hell way to go. Self expression and individuality have always been more important to me than a secure, cushy life or living by anyone else’s standards or expectations. My work has gotten pretty popular which is awesome and people seem to like what I do even if they don’t always get it and when people see the name of my art biz and quote lyrics from “Punk Rock Girl” to me I smile and the tune runs through my head all day. So yep that’s the song.
How do you find this shit?
That’s the best part of my job, I get to travel all over the place looking for abstract art in the most unusual places. It started out when I was living on a couple acres of property and my landlord had a bunch of weird industrial equipment on one part of the lot. On the other side there was the most beautiful field of grass and trees everywhere. I had just signed up for Instagram and I wanted to take some cool pictures. I looked at the pretty field, the sky, the trees and thought of all the millions of pictures of nature and was board to death before I even snapped my first shot… So instead I turned to the old industrial equipment rusting away on the other side of the lot and started taking pictures of it from various angles. Rusted chain, bolts, gears what have you… and then suddenly I noticed that the rust itself created the most amazing designs!! I was amazed! I am a child of an artist, I grew up running around art shows and in art museums, studying modern art, history and the masters all my life. We made our living from art, my Mother’s an artist as well as my Grandfather, Grandmother and Aunt.
I began creating art and doing art shows myself when I was ten. I know art, it’s my life and there I was seeing it on the side of a piece of an old mechanical equipment. I photographed it, cropped it, high-lighted the texture, posted it and people couldn’t believe it when I told them what it was. I fell in love with rust from that day on and after that rusty old cars, fire hydrants, junk yards, abandoned warehouses, old train stations have been my favorite haunts and subjects to photograph. I trespass, I get covered in mud, I get in trouble… I actually got kicked out of a train yard once but it was so worth it for the shots I got. I confuse people when I pull over to the side of the road just to take pictures of the bottom of a telephone pole or the side of a dumpster… but that’s where I find my art, it’s fucking everywhere.
For a lot of your work, you have to either discover or seek out your material. What would be a “holy grail” for you? Is there anything you haven’t found yet that you would be psyched about?
I often go out driving looking for cool shit to photograph but my eyes are always open whenever I’m out anywhere. I’ll pull my car over for any subject that catches my eye and seems like it might have potential. So I suppose I often seek material but I get lucky and discover it randomly very often as well.
And as for my “Holy Grail” I actually felt like I found my it one day, it was the luckiest thing! I am obsessed with street art, trains and rust and there was this train with the most amazing street art stuck on the tracks. I had to pull my car over, jump a ditch and climb a really steep hill but there was rust, street art,everything! I got one of my favorite photographs that day!
The one thing I would like to photograph that I haven’t found yet but would absolutely love – is a junk yard full of old cars. I’ve snuck into junk yards with industrial equipment but not cars. I adore old cards and the rust would be everywhere. So yep that’s on my list!
To see more of Charity’s work visit her site