fig. 29: Big Red
Street-Crushed Metals, Windshield Glass
20"x10"x2", 1989,
© Jo Hanson

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Biography
Jo Hanson

Jo Hanson is an environmental artist, lecturer, writer, and occasional curator whose work has derived from the environmental and social ramifications of street trash. She is based in San Francisco where she was a former arts commissioner, with one foot in the redwoods of the Russian River area, located one and one-half hours north of San Francisco.

She holds an MA in education from the University of Illinois and another in art from San Francisco State University, reflecting a mid-life career change. Since 1980 her public work has derived from the experiences and issues of her sweeping up the trash in her windy block of San Francisco, which she began in 1970.

Hanson has exhibited widely and has done occasional teaching at University of California-Berkeley, University of California Extension Center in San Francisco, California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. She is an active lecturer and panelist whose subject of choice is art and the environment. She also writes articles and essays for publication.

Hanson's experiences with city streetcleaning and recycling agencies, and six years service as an arts commissioner, set up associations which led to her proposing and advising an artist in residence program for San Francisco's disposal company, Sanitary Fill Co., part of Norcal Waste Systems, Inc. The company's pioneering program models the use of art and artists as effective instruments for getting public cooperation in waste reduction.

Recipient of an artist's fellowship (1977) and a visual arts project grant (1979) from the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as several civic citations for her work, Hanson received the 1992 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Northern California Regional Women's Caucus for Art. In 1997 she received the National Women's Caucus for Art award for Outstanding Achievement in the Visual Arts; in 1998, the Distinguished Woman Artist Award from the Fresno Art Museum Council of 100.

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All text © Terri Cohn and Jo Hanson.