Janssen proudly features artwork created by people affected by the illnesses and diseases that we are dedicated to helping prevent and treat. Please visit our art gallery to learn more about the artists and view more artwork.
Jane Kielt, an artist from Mount Laurel, New Jersey, doesn’t let her multiple myeloma stop her from pursuing her passion.
Jane specializes in watercolors and enjoys including many details in her paintings.
To include details in her paintings, Jane often looks through a magnifying glass while working.
Jane uses a variety of paintbrushes to paint different scenes and landscapes.
After formally retiring from teaching art after 26 years, Jane continues to teach painting at a local ceramics shop.
With a dab of watercolor paint on the tip of her brush, often working over a large magnifying glass, Jane Kielt likes to get lost in her paintings. Getting lost in herself and the details of her brushstrokes helps Jane change her focus.
“If you look at some of my paintings, the more detail you see is a reflection of the hard time I was probably going through,” Jane says. “I would just get lost in the painting and paint every little window, every little detail I could find. And I noticed that after working on a painting like that, I felt better.”
The “hard time” Jane speaks about is the particularly difficult day or week that often occurs when living with cancer. Jane was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2010, just a few years after her father, noted graphic artist Roy Horton, passed away from the same disease. It was from her father that Jane developed her love of art.
Jane was born in The Bronx, New York, and grew up in northern New Jersey. After high school, she attended the University of Maryland, in College Park, to study art education. “I always wanted to become a teacher,” she says. “So, I became an art teacher.”
While at college, she met her future husband, Larry. They were married in 1977. After Larry joined the United States Air Force, they moved around quite a bit before settling in the quiet suburban community of Mount Laurel, New Jersey, with their daughter, Cecelia, and son, Andrew. Through all the moves, and starting a family of her own, Jane continued to teach; 26 years in all.
“I taught special education students for a while, then kindergarten through second grade,” Jane says with the warm smile she always has, especially when talking about teaching. “I love teaching little kids. I enjoy their spontaneity, their creativity. They are so uninhibited.”
Jane formally retired from teaching in 2008, but she continues to teach painting to adults at a local ceramics shop not far from her home. It was in 2010, when she woke up with a seemingly benign backache, that her life changed. After a battery of tests, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. The Kielt family ties are very strong but Jane’s diagnosis, so soon after losing her father, jarred them.
“The hardest thing was telling my kids,” Jane says. “They're grown, but it was still the hardest thing, to have to tell them about my diagnosis.”
Since her initial diagnosis, Jane has gone through many treatments, some of which helped, and others that didn’t. She’s also had surgeries to repair vertebrae as well as two tandem autologous stem cell transplants. She relapsed in 2012 and continues chemotherapy treatment.
Jane discovered the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) and has been active in that community. She’s been an ardent supporter of the MMRF 5K Walk/Run in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her team, “Jane’s Village,” growing in numbers and contributions every year. In 2015, Jane’s Village had 105 supporters participate in the walk, and they raised more than $12,000. She was honored to receive the MMRF Spirit of Hope Award, given at every MMRF 5K Walk/Run event to a person who inspires hope and shows extraordinary commitment to the MMRF.
Despite her diagnosis and intense treatment regimen, Jane continues to stay as active as possible — riding her bike, swimming, walking in the park, cooking, teaching, traveling, painting commissions, exhibiting in galleries, creating. Jane Kielt is unrelenting.
“It's just amazing how she's handled it all,” her son, Andrew, says. “She is so positive about everything. She never complains, never asks ‘Why me?’ She just takes on what's next.”
The comfortable Kielt family home is akin to an art gallery, with paintings and sculptures throughout. Downstairs, in Jane’s art studio flooded with natural light, is a sign that reads, “My cancer does not define who I am; how I live and fight with cancer does.”
“Through my art, I feel I’m bringing attention to things people do not notice in our everyday, busy lives, things we just kind of walk passed,” Jane says. “When you have cancer or a disease like this, you stop and observe things in a different way. And that's what I want other people to see, too.”
To see more of Jane’s work, please visit her website.
Watch the video below to learn more about Jane and how her art helps her deal with her multiple myeloma.