Artist Biography:

My first New York City exhibit in 1969 was called “Elegy to Nature”. Since then, I have been painting and drawing the many diverse aspects of the landscape. I am fascinated by our complex love yet exploitation of nature. For me, painting is an affirmation of my concern and sense of awe for my subject, the natural world and its creatures.

I painted and drew the Galapagos Islands as a last “primordial place” over a span of several years, going there twice to work and experience that fascinating site. Another series was burst ink mural-sized drawings of animals and their environments. Later, I developed a personal mythology for a woman hero (based on Joseph Campbell's Monomyth), which dealt with her ecological commitment to nature. This series of 20 drawings is now in the collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Wash. D.C and was exhibited in the fall of 2005.

Whenever possible I took trips, drawing and photographing the Grand Canyon, Alaska, as well as parts of Mexico and Africa. Also I visit nuclear sites, mining fields, clear cutting sites and oil fields. Some of these sites became the focus for a series of collages of “nature as Disney-fied scenes”.

During the seventies I had four one-woman shows in New York City at the Lerner-Heller Gallery, received a C.A.P.S. New York state graphics award and exhibited in a number of group and museum shows. I proposed and worked on the HERESIES Ecology Issue #13 along with a group of other concerned women (my article on Ecotage appears in this issue). Then in 1980 I was seriously injured in an auto accident, which interrupted my life and work for a number of years and added another dimension to my work.

In 1987 I began a series of billboard paintings contrasting the beauty of nature with our destruction of it. The number of “hotspots” in the world has now begun to outweigh the wild and unpolluted ones. Curiously, the Orwellian idea (“1984”) of rewriting history comes alive in the Industrial “Parks” concept. Parks were once thought of as idyllic green glades with streams and wildlife. The environment has become THE social issue.

IN 2007 I was awarded a Pollock-Krasner Grant. Previously I won first prize in the “Notorious Long Island “ exhibit at the Hillwood Museum, (C. W. Post College, NY), the Hoyt Museum purchase award and exhibition (New Castle, PA) a New York State Council of the Arts Projects Award, the Nassau County Museum’s purchase award, (Roslyn Harbor, NY) as well as awards at the Butler Institute of American Art (Youngstown, Ohio) and at the Muscarelle Museum at The College of William and Mary in Virginia. In 2004 I was awarded a Puffin and a Ludwig Vogelstein grant. I have participated in environmental exhibits such as the Puffin Foundation’s traveling “Toxic Landscapes” exhibit, as well as group and solo environmental exhibits at Illinois Central College, Maryland Hall for Creative Arts, Antioch College, the East Ends Arts Council Gallery in New York and others.

I graduated from Carnegie –Mellon’s painting department, in1953, earning a BFA, and in 1964 a MA at NYU’s graduate program. I taught college art at Pace University, Pratt University and Southampton College.

I plan to continue to paint these paradoxical aspects of our world, in this series as well as in “Overview”, a group of 25 panels. These panels are more sculptural, since they are composed of three-dimensional materials such as collage, iridescent pigments, glass chips, and even creatures that were washed up on the beach.

Janet Culbertson