National Museum of Women in the Arts
Janet Culbertson
1932 - present
Photograph of Janet Culbertson, 1995, courtesy the artist
Place of Birth:
Phonetic Spelling:
JAN-eht KUHL-berrt-sehn
Minority status:
White non-Hispanic
Work Type/Media:
Drawings and prints, Painting
Artistic Role(s):
Draftsperson, Painter
Feminist Art
Artist's Statement:
My first New York exhibit was called Elegy to Nature, and 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 grew up in a small town in Western Pennsylvania where canoe trips, hikes in the woods and climbing every tree in the fields was as exciting as trips to the cultural centers in Pittsburg. A family vacation to Sag Harbor imprinted me with the vastness of the sands and ocean, which is probably why I eventually came back to this island area to live and try to paint its extraordinary beauty.

After high school I attended Carnegie Mellon University and studied painting and drawing. I had a passion for exploration too and hitchhiked with a friend out west where the landscape of red mountains, wild pines, and fragrant sage came as alive as the legends of the west. However I came to New York to live because it was the art center of the world.

Over the years I showed work in a number of venues, having four one-woman shows at the Lerner-Heller Gallery in New York, the Molly Barnes Gallery in Los Angeles and in many other group and museum exhibits.

A high point in my life was camping and sailing through the Galapagos Islands with the “Friends of the Earth” and painting this last Primordial Place. We retraced the trail of Darwin and reread the poetic stories of Melville. From this I developed a series of mural sized “burst ink” drawings of animals. Other series of paintings were inspired after taking trips to Africa, Alaska and rafting down the Grand Canyon and the Usmicita Rivers. The history, legends, and visual power of these places continue to influence my work and increase my commitment to art and to the necessity for a greater ecological balance of our world.

Statement courtesy of Janet Culbertson

Other Occupation(s):
Activist, Feminist, Instructor, Traveler, Environmentalist
Place(s) of Residence:
Shelter Island Heights
Where Trained/Schools:
Pratt Institute, New York, NY, USA (1964-1965) New York University, New York, NY, USA (1961-1963) Atelier 1917, New York, NY, USA (1955) The Art Students League of New York, New York, NY, USA (1954) Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, PA, USA (1949-1953)
Fellowships, grants and awards:
Grant, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, Shelter Island, NY, USA (2004) Award of Excellence, The Print Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA (2001) Audrey Shrink Award, National Association of Women Artists, New York, NY, USA (1993)
Earliest exhibition:
National Drawing Exhibit, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, CA, USA (1970)
Artist retrospective(s):
Inbound, 1975
The Pen, The Needle, or the Sword, 1975
Transcendence, 1975
Inbound (from the series "Mythmaker [Woman, A New Myth]")
The Pen, The Needle, or the Sword (from the series "Mythmaker [Woman, A New Myth]")
Transcendence (from the series "Mythmaker [Woman, A New Myth]")