“During my trip, I learned that in Latin American culture, hummingbirds symbolize strength, hope and migration. I knew that I wanted to use that symbol in my paintings when I got home.” 

TLC Podcast host Rafe Foreman interviews Portland artist Janie Lowe on her travels along the US/Mexico border and the artwork that resulted from her journey. Explore paintings from Janie’s Borderland Stories collection as you listen.

In May of 2019, Janie traveled from her home in Portland to get a first-hand view of the people and the environment along the border between Texas and Mexico. Her travels took her from Brownsville to El Paso, donating supplies and volunteering at respite centers, visiting with landowners, and seeking to understand and capture the struggle for survival along the Rio Grande river.

Janie discusses the efforts underway to construct a wall along the border and how the wall will impact residents, migrants, and the environment. “The closer we got to the wall, the more opposition there was to it. I didn’t talk to one person on the border that thought it was a good idea to put the wall up and that it would do any good at all.”

She shares how what she observed surprised her, saying, “I think that I expected to go down there and be heartbroken and see all this injustice, but you don’t see people rushing over the river, you don’t see this rush of people. You don’t see the detention centers. What I did not expect was the hope that I saw and felt. That ordinary people step in and do what needs to be done for humanitarian purposes, just to help people out. People will step in and do things where the government has failed.”

Included in this Episode

  • A personal, first-hand view of the human struggle for survival along the US/Mexico border
  • How an artist uses a painting to tell a complex and nuanced story

Important Links 


Episode Guest, Janie Lowe

Janie Lowe received her Masters of Fine Art from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. After freelancing as an illustrator for publications such as The New York Times and Random House Books, she moved to Portland, Oregon to live between the mountains and the coast.

Janie co-founded YOLO Colorhouse, an eco-friendly, architectural paint company with curated color palettes. As Creative Director, she designed the harmonious palettes in the Colorhouse collection. From 2005 – 2015, Janie focused on building the YOLO Colorhouse brand, and put painting aside.

After a 10 year hiatus from her personal work, Janie is back in her studio, and painting again. She is inspired by what brought her to the West – the mountains and the coast.

For more information about Janie’s work and workshops, please contact janie@janielowepaintings.com.

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