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Vessel sculpture Janet Goldner

Artists' Studio Visits at Biddington's Art Gallery

Welded Steel Sculpture
Touched by the Culture of West Africa

CREATIVE PROCESS visits the Tribeca studio of sculptor Janet Goldner.

Editor's Note: Immediately following this studio visit, Janet Goldner left for one of her frequent stays in Mali. For a sense of Goldner's spiritual attachment to West Africa and its culture read Woven Journey

Janet GOLDNER: Cutting images and texts into steel sculptures using a welding torch as a drawing instrument, I bring together art and poetry.

Isms (above right) Steel Vessel
"Sticks & Stones" Series

Can We Acknowledge sculpture installation

"Can We Acknowledge?"
Installed at Kingston Sculpture Biennial, 2005

In Front and Behind sculpture Janet Goldner

Janet GOLDNER: As a kid, I was always interested in social studies--in clothing and shelter. I started as a textile artist, and then I began using wire mesh and chicken wire as frames for the textiles. Eventually I became more interested in the structure than in the fabric. So, I learned welding.

Nyefe Ani Kofe ("In Front and Behind")
Small-Scale Heavy-Gauge Steel Sculpture

Life Basics steel panel Janet Goldner
Janet GOLDNER: Some of my works are in heavy steel but others are in a very light gauge. When hanging, these light-weight tablets read almost like silk. I work in an easy rhythm with a welding torch; the hard part is deciding exactly what to say.

"Life", Basics Series
Steel Inscribed Tablet

Janet GOLDNER: Basics, wall hangings of steel tablets, offers definitions of words that underlie our political beliefs and social circumstances. Light passes through the craggy holes that form the letters. My tablets are urgent vehicles for words.

mud cloth welded pattern

Janet GOLDNER: My thirty-year cultural journey began when I first traveled to West Africa in 1973. Being born in America to two socialists at the height of the McCarthy era, I never had a chance of being in the mainstream. In Africa, I was relieved to find, (as I had suspected), that there are many ways to organize life on earth.

Bogolan (Malian Mud) Cloth Pattern
Negelan Wall Installation

Janet GOLDNER: Negelan is a wall installation composed of elements and iconography that have occurred in my work for many years. Using pieces that had not ended up in the intended sculpture, this installation developed a structure of vertical and diagonal lines and includes steel figures, feathers, hands, Y-sticks and geometric patterning.

welded steel figure

Janet GOLDNER: Since 1995, when I spent eight months in Mali as a Fulbright scholar, I have been engaged in an ongoing dialogue with Malian artists and artisans about our lives, our work and our creative process. My combining of Western and non-Western images and ideas in my own work is a result of many trips to Africa over the last 25 years.

Welded Figure
Negelan Wall Installation

Goldner 's steel book Culture Shock 2

Janet GOLDNER: The hinged steel books with movable pages have grown out of my involvement with Mali. The books are layered steel collages constructed from my own scrap steel which incorporate both images and text. Multiple pages which are pieced and pierced by imagery and text result in varying degrees of transparency through steel.

Culture Shock 2
Welded Steel Book

Janet GOLDNER: Each time I return to the US from Mali, I experience profound--and painful--culture shock. It is a feeling of discomfort and disorientation in an environment that is seemingly familiar. It is usually too painful to focus on; this book is an attempt to try to pay attention to the phenomenon and to investigate it.

Janet Goldner gate sculpture
Janet GOLDNER: The books occur in a variety of scales from several inches tall up to this large outdoor piece recently installed in Lithuania.

"Can We Heal?"

Hinged "Book" in Permanent Collection of Europos Parkas Sculpture Museum, Lithuania
Janet GOLDNER: Can We Heal?, a 4-feet tall 5-page hinged steel book, was inspired by a trip through Poland and the Ukraine where I visited the towns my grandparents emigrated from. An outgrowth of my ongoing series of small steel books, this large-scale work asks in Lithuanian and English, "Can we heal from the wounds of our tortured history? Lithuanians, Russians, Poles, Germans, Jews, Everyone."

Welded steel vessel Janet Goldner

Janet GOLDNER: My vessels resemble abstracted female torsos. In 1987, during an artist residency with the University of Georgia program in Cortona, Italy, I found myself responding to ancient Greek vessels that documented historic events. Inspired by the idea of putting history on vessels, I fabricated the first of my own vessels out of wire mesh. Gradually the vessels evolved into bronze and steel.


Janet GOLDNER: A Malian potter whose utilitarian vessels hold water and food asked me what my vessels hold. "My vessels hold ideas," I said. My response deepened my understanding of the connections between my steel books and my vessels.

Immigrants sculpture installation Janet Goldner
Janet GOLDNER: This 5-vessel installation Most of Us Are Immigrants celebrates immigration as an integral and continuing part of the American experience. The work is derived from my social concerns, my community involvement and my affinity for my materials. The five 8-feet tall steel vessels which form this public sculpture weave together the experiences of immigrants across time and across ethnicity. It reflects my fundamental belief in human dignity and human rights.

Most of Us Are Immigrants

As originally sited on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, this sculpture is now part of the permanent collection of the Islip Museum, Long Island, NY

Janet Goldner

Janet Goldner

Janet Goldner steel books, vessels and tablets are
offered for sale in Biddington's Contemporary Art Gallery.
Price range: $1,750-9,000

Janet Goldner basics sheet sculpture

JANET GOLDNER Selected Public Art:
2005 Sixth Kingston Sculpture Biennial, Kingston Waterfront, NY
2004 Newburgh Sculpture Project, Newburgh, NY
2003 Byrdcliffe Outdoor Exhibit, Woodstock, NY
2002 The Art Lot, Brooklyn, NY
2001 PS122 Gallery, Outdoor Sculpture, New York, NY
2000 Europos Parkas Permanent Collection, Vilnius, Lithuania
1999 Islip Museum Permanent Collection, Islip, NY

JANET GOLDNER Selected Recent Solo Exhibitions:
2003, 2002 Art Resources Transfer, New York, NY
1998 Statements in Steel, Walton Art Center, Fayetteville, Arkansas
1996 Klutznick Museum, Washington, DC
1993, 1991, 1989 Soho 20 Gallery, New York, NY

JANET GOLDNER Selected Recent Group Exhibitions:
2004 Puffin Room, New York, NY
2003 McLean Project for the Arts, McLean, VA
2003 Susquehanna Art Museum, Harrisburg, PA
2002 Center for Visual Arts & Culture, University of Connecticut, Stamford, CT
2001 Arsenal Gallery, New York, NY
2000 Bronx Museum of the Arts, Bronx, NY
2000 Henry Street Settlement, New York, NY
1999 Central Goldfields Regional Arts Complex, Victoria, Australia
1998 Center for Book Arts, New York, NY 1998 Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX
1998 Circolo Culturale, La Spezia, Italy
1997 Artemesia Gallery, Chicago, IL (juried by Faith Ringgold)
1997 Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn , NY (curated by Annie Herron)
1996 Monmouth Museum, Lincroft, NY

JANET GOLDNER Events & Awards:
2005 Arts Workshops: "Bogolan" and "African Ceramic Vessels", The Newark Museum, NJ
1994-1995 Fulbright Senior Research Fellowship, Mali, West Africa
1989 United Nations Committee Against Apartheid Exhibition Grant

Janet Goldner's work has been reviewed and cited in numerous publications including: New York Times, Village Voice, Newark Star Ledger, Sculpture Magazine and Public Art Review. Janet Goldner is also a frequent lecturer, panel member and artist-in-residence and is especially supportive of community art projects.


CREATIVE PROCESS at Biddington's is designed as a forum for watching art in the making. Usually, this process happens in the privacy of the artist's studio. At BIDDINGTON'S Contemporary Art Gallery & upmarket, online art & antiques auction--we find it interesting to witness the steps leading to the end product and to hear the artists speak about their work in the relaxed surroundings of their own studios.

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