You can find Janelle's artwork in our Amazing Women book with her portraits of Charlotta Pyles, Danai Gurira, Joni Ernst, Lois Hattery Tiffany, and Mamie Dowd Eisenhower. She also helped develop curriculum which you can find HERE. We caught up with Janelle to learn about their experience working on this book.
Can you tell us about how you made the portraits?
This was such a fun project to work on! I knew the names of two women - Danai and Joni - but learned so much about them and the other women. For each illustration, I did research on the women and learned about their childhood, their connection to Iowa and how we remember them now in history. All in all, I felt like I was back in school learning about important Iowa history while making art (a perfect combination in my book!). Regarding my making process, I start by hand drawing images then develop them digitally in Adobe programs.
Did you learn anything while creating the portraits?
While researching Charlotta Pyles, I learned that Iowa integrated their schools in 1876 - 78 years before Brown v. Board of Education because of Charlotta and other black families filed a lawsuit. (On a side note - I moved to California last year so I love learning these fun facts that might be surprising to coastal folks who know very little about Iowa).
Is there anything else you want to share?
Working on this project has reminded me that there is always so much to learn! Even in your adult years, keep searching and discovering. Additionally, we should always re-evaluate history and look for the gaps. Who is not represented? What stories did we miss? Why aren't we sharing all the stories? I can't wait to see how this series helps expand our understanding of Iowa history!
You can learn more about Janelle by visiting her website at janelleketcher.com or following her on instagram @janelleketcher.