American artist Joan Brown was born in 1938 in San Francisco, CA. As a young artist, she attended the California School of Fine Arts, and in 1960 at the age of 22, she had her first solo exhibition at the Staempfli Gallery in New York. She was involved in San Francisco’s Beatnik culture, which included artists Jay de Feo, Bruce Conner and Wally Hedrick and poets Alan Ginsberg and Michael McClure.
Brown’s reputation as an artist grew toward the mid 1960s when she retreated from the commercial art scene to refocus her art. Her style eventually took a turn toward more symbolic imagery that was both spiritual and autobiographical. In 1990, while installing one of her sculptures in India, the floor above her collapsed and crushed her and an assistant. Her last major exhibition took place at the University Art Museum in 1974.