Janet Elizabeth Turner was a master printmaker, naturalist and art educator. Turner was born in Kansas City, Missouri and developed an early love of the outdoors through nature studies and high school botany classes. She began her studies at Stanford University in biology, later switching to history of the Far East. During a trip to the Orient in 1936, she became interested in Eastern printmaking techniques and composition. From 1937 to 1941, she studied painting at Kansas City Art Institute with Thomas Hart Benton and printmaking with John DeMartelly. Millard Sheets and Henry McFee were influential teachers at the Claremont Graduate School in California, where she earned an M.F.A. degree in 1947. Turner studied silkscreen and serigraphy with Edward Landon.
After teaching at Girls Collegiate School in Claremont, California for five years, Turner moved to Nacogdoches, Texas in 1947 to teach art at Stephen F. Austin State College. During her nine years in Nacogdoches, she networked in printmaking circles throughout the United States, entered juried shows, won many awards and purchase prizes, served on print juries for the Dallas Museum of Art at the invitation of Jerry Bywaters, and joined the Printmakers Guild with prominent women printmakers in Texas. In the 1950s, Turner’s work was included in two important exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, American Painting Today and Watercolors and Prints.
After earning a Ph.D. in education from Columbia University Teachers College in New York City and winning a Guggenheim grant, Turner was hired by Chico State University in California in 1959. At Chico State, she established a notable graphic arts program, taught scores of aspiring printmakers, experimented with innovative printmaking techniques, and established a study collection of fine art prints by master printmakers that is now the cornerstone of the Janet Turner Print Museum at Chico. A second Guggenheim Fellowship supported Turner’s experimentation combining linocuts and serigraphy. California Gulf Coast flora and fauna continued to be the primary subject of her prints throughout the remainder of her career.
During her prolific lifetime as an artist, Turner had over 200 solo exhibitions on 6 continents. In 1975, Turner was named Outstanding University Professor by the California university system. Today, California State University at Chico houses the Turner Print Museum and awards an annual Turner Prize in printmaking in her honor.
American Painting Today, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1950
Watercolors and Prints, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1952
New York World's Fair, 1964-1965
National Academy of Design, New York
American Color Print Society
Print Club of Philadelphia
Society of American Graphic Artists
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania
Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
San Francisco Museum of Art, California
Benzalei National Museum, Jerusalem
Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris
Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Society of Wildlife Art of the Nations, Gloucester, England
Portland Museum of Art, Oregon
William Rockhill Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Dallas Museum of Art, Texas
National Museum of American Art, Washington D.C.
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.