Janet Goldner

My work explores culture, identity and social justice. Migration is a continuing theme. I make steel sculpture and installations that include photography, video and sound. Bridging diverse cultures, my work celebrates the unique beauty and genius of each as well as what we have in common. Cultural preservation is important to my work where my research takes the form of immersive fieldwork. Annual visits to Mali, for more than two decades, provide inspiration. The evolution of my art traces my enduring exploration of sculptural form, my ongoing relationship with African culture, and my lifelong involvement in social activism.

I engage in long-term collaborations, particularly with Malian artists. They are all, at the same time, researcher and object of research producing dialogue and concrete works of art. Working transculturally unites people from different cultures, education, histories. The exchange of perspectives and contexts can highlight global similarities and specific cultural differences as contributors think together, contributing beliefs and strategies from their individual experiences. As the work continues over a long period of time, the result can be an identity that is not exclusively linked to a geographic location or ethnicity but to new cultural and conceptual realms.

My life experiences play an integral part in the development of my work. A master welder, I work in three dimensions as well as on paper, on the floor, on walls, and suspended from the ceiling, indoors and outdoors. My work combines poetry, patterns, forms and African themes that engage in social discourse.

Goldner received a B.A. in art from Antioch College in Ohio. She began her artistic practice as a weaver constructing three-dimensional fiber sculptures and experimenting with plant and chemical dyes. During that time, she studied textiles at the Asgard School (Denmark) and at Penland (North Carolina). She spent a year in West Africa, first as a participant in a study abroad program of The Experiment in International Living and then traveling independently. This journey ignited her life-long commitment to the continent and particularly West Africa and Mali. She received an MA in art from New York University.

In 1995, Goldner was awarded a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship. Since then, she has traveled to Mali every year for projects, research, inspiration and friendship. Janet received four Fulbright Specialist grants (Mali in 2009, Zimbabwe in 2012, Japan in 2020, Uganda in 2022) and grants from the Ford Foundation and the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid. Goldner’s published articles include a chapter in Contemporary African Fashion, Indiana University Press, an essay in Poetics of Cloth, Grey Art Gallery, NYU.

Over thirty years as an active artist, Goldner’s work has been exhibited in over twenty-five solo exhibitions, and over one hundred-fifty group exhibitions throughout the United States and internationally. Exhibition highlights include Multiple Exposures and Global Africa Project at the Museum of Arts and Design; Women Facing AIDS at the New Museum, Have We Met?, a major installation at Colgate University. Permanent collections include the American Embassy in Mali, the city of Segou, Mali and the Islip Museum on Long Island, NY.

Janet Goldner’s Website

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