Janet Goldner is a sculptor whose work crosses many cultures, focusing on the “beauty and genius of each as well as what we have in common.” She has been involved with African cultures since her undergraduate days at Antioch College, traveling first to Ghana and, years later, to Zimbabwe and South Africa. Goldner’s longest and deepest association has been with Mali where she has spent several months every year since the mid-1990’s. She has mentored women artists and helped to create employment for rural women through textile projects. She is also involved in an ongoing collaboration with contemporary artists. Her annual visits to Mali fuel much of her work. Goldner’s pieces vary from monumental (measured in feet) to small (measured in inches). The captions for the work shown are hers and explain her intentions clearly.
Fences & Neighbors is Janet Goldner’s mixed media installation inspired by her research trip to Arizona in 2014. A woven barbed wire fence divides the gallery. On the far side is a projected video of migrants’ stories that viewers can see through the fence. Photographs and texts about the migrants’ treacherous journey are layered on both sides of the space.
As the fever pitch around migration mounted in 2014, Goldner wanted to go see for herself. Working with the Tucson Arts Brigade and the US Department of Arts and Culture, she spent a week on and around the border. The fence to the sky separating Nogales, Arizona from Nogales, Sonora, made of surplus military steel from the runways in Iraq, was particularly impressive and disturbing.
Migration is a recurring theme for Goldner. Her large-scale public sculpture, Most of Us Are Immigrants was installed in Sara Roosevelt Park in the late 1990’s. It is now in the collection of the Islip Museum on Long Island.
The Point of Water is a wall installation composed of fabricated and found steel elements. In Bamana thought (an ethnic group in Mali), besides north, south, east and west, the point of water is the fifth cardinal point. Water is a directional indication as in I live two blocks from the river. Cities and towns are located near water, essential for life. The circles symbolize drops of rain. Ellipses indicate bodies of water. This installation highlights the intersection of ecology and culture paying homage to the social importance of water. Point of Water is apart of the group show called American Twist on Governor’s Island this summer with Sculptors Guild.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Janet Goldner’s work explores culture, identity and social justice in various media: steel sculpture, photography, video, installation and social projects. It consistently bridges diverse cultures, celebrating the unique beauty and genius of each as well as what we have in common. Cultural preservation is important to her work where her research takes the form of immersive fieldwork. Annual visits to Mali provide inspiration.