Born to a family of political activists, Janet Goldner grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, fully immersed in the social and political issues of the tumultuous 1960’s. The evolution of Janet Goldner’s artistic practice traces her enduring exploration of sculptural form, her ongoing relationship with African culture, and her lifelong involvement in political activism. Goldner’s life experiences have played an integral part in the development of her work, and have allowed her oeuvre to carry on a unique cohesion where themes recur and overlap, appear and disappear, then reappear in altered form.
Over thirty years as an active artist, Janet Goldner has shown her work in over twenty solo exhibitions, and over one hundred group exhibitions throughout the United States, as well as in Lithuania, Germany, Italy, Bosnia, Australia, New Zealand, and Mali. Exhibition highlights include Multiple Exposures (2014) and The Global Africa Project (2010-11) at the Museum of Arts and Design, and Women Facing AIDS (1989) at the New Museum as well as Have We Met?, a major installation at Colgate University (2007). Her work is in the permanent collection of the American Embassy in Mali, the city of Segou, Mali and the Islip Museum on Long Island, NY.
She is the recipient of numerous awards, grants, and artist residencies, including a Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship andtwo Fulbright Senior Specialist grants as well as grants from the Ford Foundation, the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation and the United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid.
Her work has been published in many books, journals, magazines, catalogs and news sources. An artist-scholar, Janet Goldner has curated exhibitions, published articles and catalogs, and lectured at conferences, universities, and community venues. Published articles include a chapter in Contemporary African Fashion, Indiana University Press, an essay in Poetics of Cloth, Grey Art Gallery, NYU. She has also conducted sculpture workshops and community art projects in both the United States Mali and Zimbabwe.
Janet participated in The Experiment in International Living Program in 1973 and spent nearly a year in West Africa, igniting her life-long connection with the continent and particularly West Africa. Janet Goldner returned to West Africa as a Fulbright fellow in 1994-95, working in Mali with potters, metal smiths, and contemporary artists. During her concentrated eight months of research, Janet’s many African experiences began to coalesce and emerge in her work. As a result of these experiences, she combines Western and non-Western images and ideas, issues of cultural identity, and responses to her own layered American cultural identity.
Janet’s work in the US and internationally includes commissions, exhibitions, collaborations, residencies, teaching, community art projects, public art projects, cultural festivals and women’s empowerment projects.
She lives and works in New York City and spends several months every year in Mali.
Most of Us Are Immigrants’ combines language and objects to make conceptually-based public art that takes the whole city as its site. —Roberta Smith, The New York Times, August 8, 1997
Janet Goldner spends much time in Mali. She makes free-standing steel sculptures and wall-bound installations that reference her artistic lineage going back to the welded sculpture of Julio Gonzalez. But the work also displays her social consciousness and her deep continuing interest in African art. —Carl Hazlewood, curator, July 2011