Photo Taken by Class and Style Productions
Janelle Washington is a self-taught paper-cut and silhouette from Richmond, Virginia. She graduated from VCU with a BFA in Fashion Design and worked as a children's wear designer for 12 years. While designing, she found interest in paper cutting after being presented with an opportunity to display other artistic talents during a company show and tell presentation. Creating with paper proved to be quite an exciting concept, and after extensive research, she designed and made her first paper cut.
Through the simplicity of paper, Janelle creates images that showcase African Americans' courage, achievements, and grace in difficult situations. In addition, her work explores Black culture, history, identity, family, and feminine beauty themes.
She has commissioned silhouettes housed at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, DC, and art installations at the historic St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. In addition, Janelle's silhouettes have been published in the Oprah magazine, September 2020 issue for the #SayHerName campaign featuring Breonna Taylor. She was also interviewed and featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper by the 2021 Pultizer Prize Winner, Michael Paul Williams.
Janelle made her debut as a picture book illustrator, winning the 2023 Caldecott Honor Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award for Choosing Brave.
Janelle is a member of The Guild of American Papercutters, Artist/Scholars of Color Collective, Art Impact USA, Inc., and Ikouii. Janelle currently lives and works in Alexandria, Virginia, with her husband while enjoying reading sci-fi and fiction books from the library and researching new paper-cut ideas.