Tundra Series: Snowy Owl Family


Tundra Series: Snowy Owl Family, a combination of linocut, woodcut, and serigraphy, was created in 1980 by American artist Janet Turner (1914-1988). This work is also known as Tundra Series: Snowy Owls. It is pencil signed and titled, and is an artist’s proof outside of the edition of 185. Tundra Series: Snowy Owls is illustrated in color on page 30 in Janet Turner Catalogue Raisonné: Drawings, Paintings & Graphic Work. This impression, printed by the artist and inscribed “imp” after the signature, is an impressively large work measuring 29-3/8 x 22-3/8 inches.

Turner once wrote: “My work comes from my evolving knowledge of social, biological and ecological relationships. My observations through my art have led to new awareness and have increased my sense of amazement, wonder, my concern about man’s impact on the world, a feeling perhaps imperfectly conveyed to others. I am awed by the richness of nature, interested in details of fur and feathers, which have meaning because they evolved from the relationship of one thing to another. I am commenting on the power of man and the instability of his social structures. Has mankind the wisdom to deserve the place of dominance in the world?”

Janet Turner, painter, printmaker, educator, and collector, was born in Kansas City, Missouri on April 7, 1914. She was raised on a farm and sent to a nature camp on Cape Cod during the summers; two factors she credited for her interest in biology and art. She enrolled in Stanford University to study biology but discovered it was a field not open to women. She took classes in botany and art and, in 1936, Turner earned her B.A., with distinction, in Far Eastern History. She then enrolled in the Kansas City Art Institute, studying painting under Thomas Hart Benton and lithography under John DeMartelly, and earned her diploma in 1941.

In the Fall of 1942, Turner began teaching at the Girls’ Collegiate School in Claremont, California. During this time she attended Claremont College, working on her graduate studies in painting with Henry McFee and Millard Sheets, and earned her M.F.A. in 1947. In 1948, she was appointed an assistant professor of art at the Stephen F. Austin State College, where she would remain until 1956. During this period, Turner began to experiment with combining linocut and serigraphy and she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1952. She received her doctorate in education from Columbia University in 1960.

While still at Columbia, Turner accepted a teaching position at Chico State University and, upon receiving her doctorate, moved to Central California. During her thirty-three year career at Chico, she upgraded the department of fine art and helped design a printmaking facility. Turner would eventually become the first Chico State professor to be awarded the California State University’s Outstanding Professor Award (1975).

Turner participated in major print and watercolor annuals and biennials and was a member of the National Association of Women Artists, the American Color Print Society, the Boston Printmakers, the Texas Watercolor Society, the Texas Printmakers, the National Serigraph Society, the Print Club of Albany, the Society of American Graphic Artists, and the Audubon Artists of New York. Turner was named an Associate of the National Academy of Design in 1952 and was elected an Academician in 1974.

Additionally, Turner was an avid collector of fine prints, beginning with a women printmakers' print club in which she traded and critiqued works alongside her contemporaries. She expanded her collection to include works she found along her travels, and she did not discriminate between popular and obscure artists. In 1981, Chico State (now the University of California, Chico) opened the Janet Turner Print Museum, which includes the prints from her personal collection as well as a selection of Turner’s own works. She is also represented in the collections of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Society of Wildlife Art of the Nations, Gloucester, England; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Philadelphia Museum of Art; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Brooklyn Museum; the Portland Art Museum, Oregon; the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; and the Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

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