Janna Kennedy entered her first art show in 1975 at the Indialantic Art Show in Florida. That same year, she won “Best in Show” for her Elton at the Tea Party costume complete with a large teacup spewing dry ice from the top of the cup headpiece.
From 1984-2018, Janna worked in New York City as a handbag designer while also producing a nonprofit, Broadway-style Halloween production every year since 1994. She won the Coney Islands’ Annual Mermaid Parade five times and, in 2007, won Judges’ Choice for her Parade Within a Parade for the 17 costumes she created.
Her strange creatures came to life when she began adding eyes and teeth. In 2020, she exhibited at The Art Gallery of Viera, Florida, winning Best in Show for her Notorious RBG 3-D mask. She also won the Put on a Funny Face Mask Contest in the New York City Coney Island competition for her 3-D Salvador Dali mask. In 2020, Janna won the congressman Charlie Crist Mask Contest, and her mask was sold to Bette Midler. In 2021, her 3-D masks, Van Gogh and Magritte, were selected for the permanent collection at the New York Public Library. In December 2021, she signed a contract with Disney to make her gourd art into various Disney characters.
I discovered the gourd art idea when I bought a small teardrop shaped gourd, hand painted as a Christmas ornament. I took it to my studio and started looking to eBay for different sizes and shapes. I saw how easily I could cut a hole into the surface and decided to try and make “personality gourds” with eyes and teeth. I soon called these crazy creatures “Gourdgeous Art.” It didn’t take long to come up with ideas and themes to help create these guys. The more I make them, the more ideas come to mind. There’s something wickedly funny about installing teeth into a gourd! I think art like this should be fun and believe me, I am having a ball making these fascinating personalities with a backstory and life all their own.