Dorothy Ruth Browdy was born in 1909 to Russian immigrants in Kansas City, Missouri. She attended the Kansas City Art Institute, where she studied with Thomas Hart Benton. During summer vacations, she traveled to New Mexico, California, and Mexico, or studied at the Chicago Art Institute, the University of Wisconsin, at the Art Students League, New York City, where she worked with Reginald Marsh.
In the mid-1930s, Browdy moved to New York and earned a Master of Arts Degree at Columbia University Teachers College. In 1946 Browdy married Joseph Kushner, and moved to Altadena, California. Their son, Robert, was born that year. In California, Kushner studied with some of the watercolorists, such as James Couper Wright who specialized in a large scale, free and open expression of the technique. However, in frequent visits to the Pasadena Art Museum (now the Norton Simon Museum of Art), Kushner became interested in German Expressionist paintings and prints, in particular Lyonel Feininger, Alexej Jawlensky, Emil Nolde, and Ernest Ludwig Kirchner. She began to focus on full-fledged Modernism and the expressive power of color.
Around 1951 the family moved to Arcadia, to a chicken ranch where one of the barns became a studio as well as a gathering place for Kushner’s artist friends. A community developed as she and sixteen other progressive women painters and writers gathered every month to critique one another’s work. They were ‘The Group’ and they met from around 1955 to 1972. In the early 1950s Kushner studied with the Abstract Expressionist Richards Rubin, a former student of Hans Hofmann. Because of allergies to oil paint solvents, she painted with casein and ultimately acrylic paint on paper, board, and canvas. She also made many prints during this period, concentrating on woodcuts combined with linocut.
Kushner exhibited frequently with art associations in which she was an active member and occasionally a juror or an officer. These included the Los Angeles Art Association, Pasadena Society of Artists, California Water Color Society, and the American Color Print Society. During the late 1960s she taught painting and drawing at Pasadena City College, Rio Hondo College, Whittier, and Citrus College, Glendora.
Kushner moved from Arcadia to Costa Mesa in 1972 and became active in the art scene in Orange County. Following Joseph’s death in 1980, she moved to Santa Monica. Dorothy Browdy Kushner died in New York City in 2000.