Janeil Engelstad’s work is guided by the following question: How does my work make a generative and positive contribution to people and the planet? Intentional, creative action grounded in Spirit, Gratitude, Love and Purpose underpins her work.  Her creative practice and advocacy work often dovetail into projects that address social, historical and environmental concerns. Embedded engagement, including deep listening, research and building interdisciplinary and diverse collaborative coalitions, underpins her work.

Engelstad’s work has been exhibited and produced in partnership with Amon Carter Museum of American Art, ARTMargins/MIT, California Museum of Photography, City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, Dallas Museum of Art,  International Center of Photography, Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art Gdańsk, Leonardo/MIT, Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), New York City Department of Transportation’s Art Program, New York City Public Library, Oboro Montréal, Stanica Žilina-Záriečie, U.S. Department of State and others.

In 2019, Engelstad updated and expanded her 2009 project Voices From the Center. Stemming from Engelstad’s conversations with Central Europeans about life during and after communism, Voices From the Center includes a web site, exhibitions, public art, and public programs throughout Central Europe and the United States.  In 2017, as an artist in residence at Dallas Museum of Art, Engelstad produced Beyond Borders where she researched and explored works of art from the Museum’s permanent collection. Produced during the Trump administration’s launch of Executive Order 13769 (also known as the Muslim ban or travel ban) Engelstad designed a set of cards and created public tours and programs  that revealed unexpected relationships between works of art from various cultures and time periods, hi-lighting the movement of and connections between people throughout history.  

Engelstad is the Founding Director of Make Art with Purpose (MAP), an organization that produces collaborative artist led projects that address social and environmental concerns. MAP projects include communities as partners in the production of the work, directly engage the audience to participate beyond the role of passive observer and ignite creative collaboration across organizations and disciplines. Recent MAP projects include AMPL!FY: Leveraging the Power of Art and Design to Advance the Front Lines of Social Justice (2018). Designed and organized by Engelstad and Mark Randall of Worldstudio, thought-provoking posters hi-lighting and promoting the work of NYC non-profits working in social and environmental justice were installed throughout lower Manhattan and Harlem. The project included an exhibition at Museum of Arts and Design, performances in partnership with Harlem Stage, and arts education workshops in schools and at MAD on arts and social justice.  

Engelstad's projects that connect directly with policy include the award winning Visualizing Violence / Peace Signs, a multi-year national project that addressed youth gun violence, which she co-produced with World Studio Foundation. Participants created billboards, transit posters, and other media that illuminated youth gun violence in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, New York City and Chicago. The project  included an extensive radio and television media campaign, workshops on tolerance, equity and justice, and a citywide Peace Parade and Festival in Chicago. Campaigns and policy proposals to elected officials, including the California State Assembly and City of Chicago, were coordinated with non-profits and individuals working to lessen youth gun violence, which resulted in the passage of anti-gun violence legislation that had a measurable positive impact.  

Engelstad has contributed essays to numerous publications including, Exploring New Horizons (Vernon Press, 2019), Wilmington, Delaware, 2019 ; Urban Public Art: Community Involvement and Civic Engagement (Rowan & Littlefield, 2016); ARTMargins, Dallas Morning News; On the Issues; In These Times; and eutopia. Her podcast, MAP Radio Hour, conversations at the intersection of art, design, science, politics and justice is hosted by Creative Disturbance and ARTECA/MIT. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets, including Art News, The Atlantic, Chicago Tribune, Communication Arts, Dallas Morning News, Flash Art, I.D. magazine, Interview, Los Angeles Times, Metropolis, NBC Nightly News, New York Times, NPR, and Print Magazine.  

She has taught and lectured at universities throughout North America and Europe and in 2006 she was a Fulbright Scholar at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, Slovak Republic.  A member of the Social Practice Art Research Center at University of California, Santa Cruz, Engelstad has an MFA in Photography from a joint program between New York University and International Center of Photography and BAs in Political Science and English from University of Washington, Seattle.  She is currently a 2022-23 COIL Fellow and Embedded Artist and Lecturer at the Institute for Innovation and Global Engagement at University of Washington, Tacoma.

Photo by Pamela Miller

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Connect to Projects

Voices From the Center, a multi-form project that examines life before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The MAP Radio Hour podcast, hosted by Janeil Engelstad, conversations with writers, artist, designers and other impacting people and the planet.

Connect to Talks

Virtual salon organized and moderated by Janeil Engelstad, marking the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave (some) woman the right to vote.

Participating artists: Amy Khoshbin, Annette Lawrence, Delaney Smith, Lisssa Rivera, Ofelia Faz-Garza, Tahila Corwin Mintz,Taylor Barnes, and Vicki Meek