Art display: Old Mixed with the New


The Arts and science building is featuring mixed media art work done by Janet Paluch, artist at American River College. (Photo by Lidiya Grib)

Lidiya Grib

Janet Paluch describes her art on display at American River College, as a combination of “old mixed with the new.” Her work is loaded with symbolism that reflects her journey in life as an artist.

Her work is on exhibit in the Arts and Science building; the wide array of art medium she used reflects the story of her journey, work that over time changed from works of 2-D to collage and assemblage.

The pieces she chose to go in the display included a quilt, fiber art, a wire sculpture and art dolls. 

Most of her work is laden with symbolism and some are inspired from her travels.

“All of my pieces have some sort of personal meaning; symbolism in my work can be very overt or it can be hidden,” Paluch said.  “Sometimes I want the secret just to be between me and the art piece, and sometimes I want to have an art piece that speaks to more than just myself.”

One of the ways that her use of symbolism can be seen expressed is in her use of skulls; a majority of her art is based on Mexican folk traditions like “Dia de los Muertos,” or Day of the Dead.

“For me, [skulls] are not frightening; they are sort of an homage to what we all have to face, that’s ultimately death.”

Paluch talked about her enjoyment in working with all types of different art mediums, although she leans towards favoring creating works that involve collage and assemblage the most.

Even as a child, Paluch says she has always been obsessed with doing something that was creative.

“Whether I’m working in fabric or fiber or a paint or found objects, my process is very similar: I am not a minimalist; for me, more is better,” she said.

Her first venues of craft were sewing, wearable art and traditional quilting; from there, she went on to include making art quilts and garments. Paluch learned to sew in high school and continued this craft for 55 years.

Paluch is self taught in many areas of her artistry; attending workshops and traveling art shows exposed her to adopt forms of art journaling, handmade books, and paper art, things that are “different from mainstream fine art.”

In her artist statement, Paluch writes: “I am a mixed media artist who views everything with a potential to become art. Re-purposing, altering and combining unusual material are the hallmark of my work.”

Paluch’s journey led her from being a public school teacher for 34 years to retiring and coming to ARC where she is now an art student as well as an instructionalist aid in the Fine Arts Department.