Baring it All

Wickford business owner and artist creates “The People Project,” extraordinary artwork for an even greater cause


If you ask Janelle “Elle” Feigley, owner of Gossip Boutique in Wickford, how long her paintings take to create, her answer would be “a lifetime.” Her art reflects her soul and what circumstance it may be going through or inspired by, which is exactly why she created “The People Project” last September.

After losing two close friends in the previous year, Feigley sought out art, one of her greatest passions, as a means of coping. Since its inception, “The People Project” has evolved into a project that’s about women celebrating and uplifting one another, instead of being specifically tailored to breast cancer, its initial subject.

Every day through the month of October, Feigley painted a nude woman in a one-on-one session. Together, their simple studio visit turned into a therapy session for herself and her model, where intimate details were shared about each other’s lives. While some models are currently battling breast cancer, others are grieving the loss of a family member to it. Others are much different, coming to Feigley to share their bodies for a brief art session while, too, sharing stories of domestic abuse or alcohol and drug use.

Every piece comes to life through acrylic paint. They begin on a canvas that was used to mix the previous model’s color palette, which, says Feigley, “connects all of the women from the start of the project until completion.” She adds that “each piece of art is somewhat of a time capsule [of] the issues that women are dealing with on a daily basis.”

When her month of painting is behind her, Feigley will host a celebration at her store in Wickford, which will be followed by a gallery show at Sundance in East Greenwich on November 16 from 6-9pm. There, all of the paintings will be on display and for sale, accompanied by the model. All proceeds go to whichever charity is chosen by the public on social media, something she says shouldn’t take away from the beauty of the project and the connection it brings women.

To Feigley, “The People Project” is Guggenheim-bound. “It’s inevitable,” she says. “A project this pure in intention and purpose that has come about organically is going to surpass Rhode Island in due time.” She adds, “‘The People Project’ [is] a beautiful story that [demonstrates] a true celebration of women and people in our community.”