Janet Hudnut Ahrens is a deaf professional paper and book artist who uses both Eastern and Western methods of paper formation. She received her MA and MFA degrees in design from the University of Iowa. During August of 1995, Janet was one of three artists representing the United States and Iowa as a Yamagata Fellow at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. working with artists from other countries. Ahrens participated in an open studio to explore and advance adaptive techniques for people with disabilities. Several pieces created by Ahrens are now part of the Yamagata Institute’s International Collection.


My two and three dimensional abstract pieces are made from flax, cotton, or kozo. Many of my pieces are sculptural in design depicting Iowa’s many-faceted landscape. The passage of time, the rough, vigor, and spontaneity that resembles mature show in my work. My books try to take the viewer away from the traditional rectangular format to a sculptural presentation. The introduction of industrial material with handmade organic is a recurring theme.
The ever-changing landscape has been a constant theme in my work. I try to capture a moment in time, showing how the environment shapes the landscape over the centuries. The book format intimately involves the viewer with the piece. By handling the book, the viewer has control of reshaping the book planes, like the environment on the landscape. Almost all of my books are held together without the use of sewing or adhesive. The binding or hinge is an integral part of the whole. There is no written text. The distressed surface and edges are created by the use of a walnut dye.