Artist, Janet Olivia Henry: I am Janet Henry and I’ve considered myself an artist I think forever. I met artists in high school. Most of them were white and men, but I met artists. I knew you could have a profession. And when I went into Just Above Midtown, there it was. It was a magnet for artists, who just wanted to follow their minds.
And then somebody told me it was gonna close. So I came up there. I was just, like, spouting, “Well, you can’t close, please don’t close!” And Linda said staying open was partly due to me almost having a nervous breakdown in front of her.
When JAM moved downtown, every day Linda would get up early, she would look at ads, she’d go walking around Tribeca until she found a place on Franklin Street. I used to say, if you saw somebody in a suit down there, they were lost. It was still industrial.
The office at JAM was in the basement and I remember bringing in toys and photographing them down in the basement.
My work, it’s social commentary. What I found is that American culture had been replicated in miniature. I have a range of characters. Even though I don’t create the dolls and the clothes, I have to find the thing that makes it come together.
I really thought I had to invent my own medium. And I kind of came with that attitude from high school through art school. And it flowered at JAM.