Janet Goldner Women's Work - Pottery in Mali


Painting a clay pot with slip

In 1994, Janet Goldner received a Fulbright Fellowship to do research in Mali. As part of the research, she lived in the Kalabougou for several months.  Kalabougou is a village across the Niger River from Segou, Mali. The village dates from the time of the Bamana Empire, which thrived in the region from the 17th to the 19th centuries. The potters of Kalabougou are the women of the village. They mine the clay, transport it to the village, kneed the clay and built the pots, paint it with slip and burnish them. They then gather grass and branches and fire the pots.



Mining clay


Gathering grass to fire the pots


Forming pots


Hand building pots


A woman is finishing the lip of a water pot


Preparing for firing.


Firing the pots


To the market


Pots on display

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 my work where her research takes the form of immersive fieldwork. Annual visits to Mali provide inspiration.

Social projects internationally and in the US include participation and long-term collaborations with diverse groups of artists and non-artists. All are, at the same time, researcher and object of research producing dialogues and concrete works of art.

Goldner’s life experiences play an integral part in the development of her work. She works in three dimensions as well as on paper, on the floor, on walls, and suspended from the ceiling, indoors and outdoors. The evolution of Goldner’s sculpture traces my enduring exploration of sculptural form, her ongoing relationship with African culture, and her lifelong involvement in political activism.

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One comment

  1. Lori Goodman says:

    Hi Tova,
    What a treat it was to see the pictures of Janet Goldner’s and kalaboughu. I was there around 1993 or 4, took a boat to get to the village and it has remained one of my absolutly most memorable experiences. I still have some pots. I love your new venture. Good luck with it.

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