Over thirty years as an active artist, I have shown my work in over twenty solo exhibitions, and nearly one hundred group exhibitions throughout the United States, as well as in Lithuania, Germany, Italy, Bosnia, Australia, New Zealand, and Mali. I am the recipient of numerous awards, grants, and artist residencies, including a Fulbright Fellowship and a grant from the UN Special Committee Against Apartheid. My work has been published in many books, journals, magazines, catalogs and news sources. An artist-scholar, I have curated exhibitions, published articles and catalogs, and lectured at conferences, universities, and community venues. I have also conducted sculpture workshops and community art projects in both the United States and Mali.
My work combines energy, abstract and classical forms and ideas as well as ages old motifs and skills. It records and reflects human scale, labor, body ornaments, utensils, community and traditions as well as the new. It is quiet and open at the same time. My life experiences have played an integral part in the development of my work, and gives my work unique a cohesion where themes recur and overlap, appear and disappear, then reappear in altered form.
A master welder, I work in 3 dimensions as well as on paper, on the floor, on walls, and suspended from the ceiling, indoors and outdoors. A work ethic drives my images, as can be seen in my references to tools, utensils, and the implied days spent in “doing and making”. Patience and skill are the attributes I employ to achieve the open line of the flowing metal. It is in fact a meditation.
Bringing together art and poetry, I cut images & texts into steel sculptures using a welding torch to draw into the surfaces of the sculptures. Recently my installations have included video and sound as well as sculpture to provide additional points of entry.
The interplay of texture and pattern combines with an off-kilter geometry that gives my work a special immediacy and excitement. My work thrives on small tensions between light and shadow, positive and negative, organic and precise, playful and serious, political and personal. I create my often-poetic steel sculptures using a welding torch as a drawing instrument, cutting images and sometimes text into them. As Vivien Raynor wrote in The New York Times (February 26, 1995), “Janet Goldner is a sculptor with a gift for wielding the blow torch, a way with words, and the will to combine the two.”
An examination of the notion of transculture is helping me articulate my cultural journey as an active participant in both American and Malian culture over the last thirty-five years. Intercultural encounters are often characterized by confusion, mistrust, disorientation. The concept of “trans-culture(s)” emphasizes the transformation and transfer of culture. Beyond multiculturalism, there is an inextricable blending of cultures so that my thoughts and world view is always simultaneously American and Malian.