Janet Culbertson (b. 1932) grew up in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. She loved nature, canoed through the Allegheny Mountains, and raised baby owls and released them into the wild. Janet Culbertson has been a using art as activism for years. Common themes in her work include global warming, extreme weather, overpopulation, and the diminishment of the earth. Her work is fueled by the constant news barrage of both natural and/or contrived disasters of the day. When possible she takes trips to experience first-hand the sustaining power of nature amidst the evidence of humanity’s destructive impact.
I feel that art, whether beautiful or provocative, can be a force for creating a greater ecological awareness of our threatened world.
Her first exhibition was called Elegy to Nature, an eco series inspired by tankers wiping out coastal life and oil companies dumping oil waste into the sea. Soon after completing Elegy to Nature, she took a course at The Foundation for Mind Research which introduced her to Joseph Campbell’s monomyth, The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1948). Culbertson in response, created a Mythmaker suite of drawings (1973-76) that chart the course of a woman’s struggle to follow her own path through a maze of seemingly insurmountable hurdles presented by male-dominated society. During the seventies she had four one-woman shows in New York City at the Lerner Heller Gallery; received a C.A.P.S. New York State drawing award and exhibited in a number of group and museum shows; proposed and worked on the HERESIES Ecology Issue #13 along with a group of other concerned women. In 1987, Culbertson began a series of billboard paintings contrasting the beauty of nature with our destruction of it. She searched for beautiful sites as well as the ubiquitous polluted areas–to paint, to photograph and to absorb.
She was invited to have solo shows at the Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center, the University of Nebraska, the University of Bridgeport, Seton Hill University in Greensburg, PA., (her home town), The Museo de Los Ninos in Costa Rica, The Accola-Griefen Gallery, NYC and more recently, a forty-year retrospective, “Paradise Gone” at Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, Cazenovia, NY.
Janet’s work can be viewed in our current exhibition East End Collected7.