Artist creates special gifts for Janie’s House girls
Every girl who completes her program at Janie’s House in Georgia receives a special gift.
It is a framed Madagascar Sunset – a butterfly with all the colors of the rainbow. The artwork is meant to help the girls reflect on their own metamorphosis – from the pain of abuse and trauma towards recovery.
They are a gift from one survivor to another — the creation of Pennsylvania artist Megg Ochsenbein, who endured abuse as a child herself and still sometimes deals with the emotional aftermath. Her friends Lena Magarelli-Krone and Jenn Gehring contributed to the project.
As a young girl, Megg heard “Janie’s Got a Gun” and was drawn to the song. “It expresses the anger we all feel,” she said. Although most young people her age liked the Backstreet Boys, Megg’s favorites were always Steven Tyler and Aerosmith.
Artist Megg Ochsenbein with Steven Tyler
When she heard that Steven was starting Janie’s Fund, his philanthropic partnership with Youth Villages to help the thousands of girls who experience abuse and neglect each year, she wanted to be an early supporter. And she got a chance. One of her art clients won tickets to the Janie’s Fund kickoff concert at Lincoln Center in New York City and gave them to Megg.
During Steven Tyler’s performance, Megg ended up standing next to his daughter Liv. “I thought this is my chance to get a message to him, to tell him how much he has meant to me.” She opened a blank text message on her phone and began typing. She showed the message to Liv who stepped over to talk after the show.
As a child, Megg had suffered abuse from a family member. Not being believed by her father deepened the trauma, even as her abuser pleaded no contest and was jailed. It was years before she could talk about everything that happened, including enduring rape.
Later, she suffered domestic violence. “I couldn’t find my voice to ask for help because I feared being called a liar again,” she said. “People don’t seek help sometimes because they are punished for seeking help.”
“Luckily, I’m a strong person, and I got through things. I persevered, and art was one of the things that helped me. Considering all the things,” I’m fortunate,” she says. Megg’s artwork is on display at www.deathcourture.com and www.instagram.com/Death_Couture.
In September 2016, Megg got to meet Steven before his performance with The Loving Mary Band in Pennsylvania.
“I never imagined I would get to hug my hero and say thank you!” Megg said. She gave him gifts of her jewelry pieces made from bird skulls. “One day, I hope to see a picture of him wearing a piece that I created.”
When she heard about Janie’s House in Douglasville and now the second Janie’s House in Memphis, Megg wanted to create something special for the girls.
“I’m not the first person to frame a butterfly,” she said. “But, I’ve taken a concept and put my own flair and flavor to it. For the girls, I went sparkly, bright and pretty to symbolize their re-birth, their new beginning.”
During a visit to Georgia, she came to the Douglasville campus, expecting to just drop off her donation. Instead, she got to visit Janie’s House and meet some of the girls receiving help.
Megg had words of comfort and support for each one.
“I believe in Janie’s Fund so much,” she said. “Trauma comes back to you. These girls are learning coping mechanisms that will help them their entire life. They’re learning resilience, and they’ll need that going forward.”
“You’re going to get through this,” Megg told them. “Take your experience, your energy and focus it in positive directions – like art.”