J. M. Culver is a contemporary figurative artist who creates portraits and psychological narratives with universal themes. She explores figuration and abstraction through a combination of painting and drawing. Prominent themes in her work are the transitory nature of memory, social dynamics, and personal allegories that give an intimate and tangible glimpse into the human psyche.
Culver attended Syracuse University in New York for graduate studies and holds a BFA in painting from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She is a featured artist on the MN Original TV series, a recipient of two Artist Initiative Grants from the MN State Arts Board, a recipient of a First Place International Award for painting from the FSU Museum of Fine Arts, has exhibited alongside Margaret Keane’s paintings in an international exhibition curated by the editor of Juxtapoz Magazine, and has been featured in numerous publications.
Culver is a former gallery director and curator. She actively exhibits her work, which is held in private collections internationally. Culver is a member of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts Association (NEMAA) and works full-time in her studio located in Minneapolis.
My paintings explore memory, identity, and the human condition through dramatic character portraits and psychological narratives.
Bordering between representation and abstraction with provocative paint and charcoal layers, the portraits explore identity by obscuring facial features, revealing the underlying structure, and expressing a sense of raw emotion, while presenting a distorted character of what once-was. The viewer is confronted with an uncertain and unnerving presence of the other, with something almost nonhuman left on the surface.
Using these characters, I recreate narratives that stem from my childhood memories of my grandfather who suffered from schizophrenia combined with the second-hand memories of his surreal story-telling. These reconstructions and personal observations of the human condition present an immediate and intimate, tangible expression of memory while exploring the mundanity, absurdity, gravity, and the humor of life.
My work addresses issues of the transitory nature of memory, the ownership of stories and secrets, and the inconsistency of perspective with mental health and personal identity. I create paintings that have personal significance and create social consciousness to connect and emotionally resonate with the viewer.