Janelle Cordero



Watercolor and ink on watercolor paper, 18” x 24” 



Watercolor and ink on watercolor paper, 12” x 25”



Watercolor and ink on watercolor paper, 12” x 25” 

I make art because it fulfills my needs for contemplation and prayer. When I’m solely focused on painting or sketching, my mind isn’t distracted by meaningless thought cycles. I’m utterly in the moment, giving myself entirely to whatever piece I’m working on. And it’s thrilling when I can capture the human essence with some ink lines and messy splashes of watercolor.

The three portraits are meant to embody the simultaneous pain, heartache, and hope of 2020. We are in the most surreal era of modern times in regards to politics, the pandemic, economic collapse, a national push for racial equity and awareness, and a dismantling of the idea that America is infallible as a world leader. As mystic and Franciscan Father Richard Rohr says, life is a “journey of great love and great suffering. This journey leads us to a universal love where we don’t love just those who love us…Any journey of great love or great suffering makes us go deeper into our faith and eventually into what can only be called universal truth. Love and suffering are finally the same, because those who love deeply are committing themselves to eventual suffering.”

In order to capture the great love and great suffering of humankind, I utilized bright primary splashes of watercolor on the faces to symbolize the vibrancy and hope of life. In contrast, I kept the expressions of the portraits somber while also incorporating teardrops spilling from their eyes to highlight the great suffering of what it means to be alive, now and in all other times of human history. I also wanted the faces in the portraits to maintain a fierce and concentrated gaze on the viewer to symbolize actual and penetrating vision rather than superficial assumption. When we see the social issues of our world through only one lens (our own), we are incapable of dualistic and whole interpretations. 2020 has been a year of division, and I want my artwork to serve as a provocative reminder of our need for empathy and understanding.

Stephane Vereecken

Janelle Cordero is an interdisciplinary artist and educator living in the seventh most hipster city in the U.S. Her writing has been published in dozens of literary journals, including Harpur Palate and The Louisville Review, while her paintings have been featured in venues throughout the Pacific Northwest. Janelle's most recent poetry and art collection, Woke to Birds, was published in October of 2019 through Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. An additional poetry and art collection, Many Types of Wildflowers, is forthcoming in December 2020. Stay connected with Janelle's work at