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AYA038 – Why You Should Ask Everyone Questions with JaNae Contag

JaNae Contag

JaNae Contag is an artist, curator, musician, a lecturer at two universities, and runs a studio where she produces photographic work for clients and collaborators. She has spent her artistic career looking at the connections she finds in the world and making visual cultural critiques of the ideas she encounters in her life. Our conversation focuses on how she finds new ideas and connections in her work and personal life as well as what she tells her photography students who are just starting their career.


JaNae Contag received her BA in Studio Art, Political Science, and Spanish from Trinity University in San Antonio and her MFA in Visual Art from the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Art at Washington University in St. Louis. Contag’s work deals with aspirational middle-class America, idiosyncratic moments in which tourism and elitism co-exist (malls, airports, lifestyle centers, megachurches, cemeteries), and overlooked architectural elements that reveal a checkered history of dwelling, shopping, and consuming. Her work has been exhibited at Central Booking, New York, Intersect Art Center, St. Louis, The Luminary Center for the Arts, St. Louis, Points North, Farmington, Maine, and Trestle Projects, Brooklyn, among others. Giving Up the Ghost was completed through a grant from the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis. Contag lives in Chicago and teaches Photography and Film & Video Production DePaul University and at The Illinois Institute of Art – Schaumburg in addition to freelancing as a co-owner of Concrete Imaging. She is also working on recording and production for a full-length synth pop album under her music pseudonym, NAE. Her other current collaborative projects include a feature-length documentary about the former Chicago Mayor, Harold Washington, as well as a podcast called Unfolding Six Points, about esoteric Chicago history.



ART/WORK: Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career by Heather Darcy Bhandari

Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton

Sprawl: A Compact History by Robert Bruegmann

Teaching Artist Handbook, Volume One: Tools, Techniques, and Ideas to Help Any Artist Teach Paperback by Nick Jaffe

Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi


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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

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