(NEXSTAR) — For Janie Korn, a New York-based artist, there’s something magical about candles.
They’re ephemeral for one — a quick match to the wick and the wax drips down around it.
But they’re also signifiers of stored, potential energy.
“Undoing them is a huge part,” she says. “That spirit that exists within a candle of the potential destruction is this added element to the overall composition.”
“Even if you don’t light the candle there’s this sort of invitation, this danger of potentially [destroying it]. It communicates on a spiritual level.”
You probably don’t want to burn Korn’s candles in the first place. They’re works of art, after all. But Korn is O.K. with it if you do decide to set fire to one of her art pieces.
“I recently started to light some of my own candles, and I think it brings them life,” she said. “They start to move, the wax starts to melt, and I really like it.”
Korn’s subjects are multivalent and ever-changing. She’s interested in objects that hold a special place in people’s hearts, but that don’t often grab our full attention.
Consider her Panera bread bowl candle. It’s not something you’d stop to think about, but it holds a space in many of our hearts.
It’s about reflecting on “small, forgotten moments,” Korn says.
She grew up in “suburbia,” and finds “there’s elements of my upbringing that don’t get a lot of shine in the art world or in the cultural hierarchy.”
“They’re modest things, like the bread bowl. It’s not esteemed, but to me it’s really formative, inspiring and essential to my rearing. But it’s a simple lowly bread bowl!”
Korn’s inspirations are seemingly endless. Recent candle forays include a Bob Ross painting, a Chucky doll and a TJ Maxx.
To Korn, there’s elements of the mystical even in the most mundane.
Her favorite candles to make, however, are portraits. Korn accepts commissions for candles that look like people’s faces — and the results are often uncanny.
“I really love looking at people’s faces,” she says. “I like studying the features and creating a gift for somebody.”
She even does wedding cake toppers — something you won’t see at any ol’ festivity.
Currently, she’s been working on more “abstract” work, with gothic influences. She’s even developing a scented candle that smells like “bodega flowers” — newspapers, refrigerator and snacks, included.