Using Art to Piece Together a Compassionate World

by | Feb 24, 2023 | Heartivist Of The Week

“I think art is about self-growth and I totally believe that things evolve on their own – they have a life of their own – and if you pay attention to what’s going on, it will lead the way.” – Janny Taylor

Janny Taylor, an award-winning artist, best-selling author and exceptional collagist, believes that life is about putting things together. Whether it is arranging images or inviting people to come together, Janny allows one idea to feed another and her incredible project, “Community Happening: Cut, Paste, Scream” is no exception. 

This project is an invitation for people to step inside Janny’s art studio in Tucson, Arizona on the first Saturday of every month and explore the magic of collage-making and that’s only part of it. The experience presents an unforgettable opportunity for people from all walks of life to come together in community, share some laughs, engage in creative conversations, exchange ideas and leave with art and joy. In just a short time, the number of participants has tripled and this woman who created a successful life by allowing possibility and imagination to be her guide, is watching her mission to create a more compassionate world through art come to life. 

The Color and Composition of Childhood

As her family moved often, Janny’s childhood memories are found perfectly preserved in her mind’s eye – like photos in an album – according to the color of her bedroom. Roosters wallpaper brings her back to 5 or 6 years of age while the yellow room with an attic and big white daisies tells the story of her teen years. She remembers visiting model homes with her family, picking out which room she’d want while her mother would rearrange the furniture – a practice Janny continues to this day when staying in an AirBnB.

“My mother would never serve all beige food. She’d say that you want to have different colors on a plate. She didn’t know that green and red were complimentary colors, she was just intuitively putting things together and moving furniture around,” Janny recalls, as she thinks about her own talent when it comes to color and composition.

Eliminating Fear and Celebrating Originality

Though Janny does not necessarily believe that color and composition can be taught, she has a subtle way of inspiring others to use their intuition as a navigation system when engaging in the process of creation. While teaching collage at The Drawing Studio in Tucson, she purposely gave packets containing the exact same information and set of materials to every student. When people finished creating, she put the pieces up on the wall and invited people to see that despite being given the same instructions and materials, the pieces looked nothing alike. It was her way of easing other’s fears around sharing ideas and allowing them to be vulnerable and find joy in the act of making art.

The Art of Interaction

The Cut, Paste, Scream project presents a similar idea. This project breaks down the barriers people have within as well as those they create between themselves and the world-at-large. One gentleman came in to make a collage and as he began to create, he opened up and shared stories with her while newlyweds spent their time sharing the best things about each other as they made art. A woman who was supposed to attend a workshop was delayed due to an accident on the highway and she found herself in Janny’s studio. Though she said she’d never created anything in her life, she decided to try to create a collage that day and made something beautiful. These experiences drove Janny to want to expand this experience and that led her to The Pollination Project

“You proved me wrong. I thought I was never going to get the grant but you proved me wrong. I told everybody, “Janny said, laughing. “I love what The Pollination Project is about and that you would give someone like me an opportunity to share. So glad that TPP is there and that an idea doesn’t have to be a life or death situation, it can simply be sharing the joy of making things.

The Power of Community

Some of the joy that Janny so readily shares with others was born from a negative interaction. While many look at role models in a positive light, Janny tends to love the lesson to be found in a good negative role model. For instance, the artist who refused to share the name of the glue being used when Janny was just starting out inspired her to give people all the tools they need to be successful. A collage that Janny created and decided she didn’t like, became fertile ground for transformative thought when Janny cut it into slices and discovered something beautiful. Whether it’s changing a thought or the form of a piece, her ability to turn obstacles into innovation is one of her greatest superpowers. 

“If there is anything positive that comes from this, if there is a seed planted, if someone goes off in a better direction, if someone feels better in that moment, and that seed grows, it becomes a part of your growth. If I can play even a tiny part in that, if I can help one person to feel good or to light up, that’s amazing” Janny shared, a note of joy in her voice.

Perseverance and Making Space for All Voices

This woman who created the best-selling book, “Our Lady of Weight Loss: The Patron Saint of Permanent Fat Removal,” (Penguin Publishing) that spoke to the hearts of thousands of women is no stranger to perseverance and helping to uplift others. With hope in her heart, she builds a space for people that has the power to create true, lasting change. 

“We are all sharing this amazing, scary, joyous experience called life, but small differences sometimes make it hard to see how much we have in common, how much we all want to connect with each other, express ourselves and make a mark on the world. If we can have conversations and share a little laughter and create something together, we can become a community that can do anything” 

Join Us 

If you are inspired by this work and have an idea for a project that addresses an issue that you are passionate about, we’d like to invite you to submit an application and together we will build a better, more compassionate future! 

If you would like to support the work of more changemakers like this around the world, please visit our donation page and make a gift today!


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