Sunday, January 11, 2009

betty goodwin 1923 - 2008

Betty Goodwin, Passing Through (Nerves Series), 1994

I've not been on top of the news these days and I have only just learned that Betty Goodwin died on December 1st at the age of 85. Betty Goodwin's work resonates with me in a way that no other work does. I relate to her imagery, I connect with her use of materials, and I respond to her work in a deeply visceral manner. There is recognition on so many levels. It is the intimacy, the fragility, the subtlety, the vulnerability expressed in her work which moves me. Her passing saddens me but there is comfort in knowing that her work will continue to influence the work of others. Including mine.

Betty Goodwin, Black Arms, 1985

Here is an excerpt from a Maclean's article from 1998 which makes an excellent start in describing her work: Betty Goodwin draws on the skin of things. She makes art with flattened shrouds of disembodied clothes, old vests pressed into paper like dried flowers. She stitches scars onto a black tarpaulin that hangs folded, with ropes dangling, like a stage curtain. She works dark bruises into paper and Mylar. And in her body of work, the body is always making itself felt, as a vessel of memory, the flesh smudged by love or torture. She draws swimmers who may or may not be drowning. Bodies that could be floating or falling. Bones, nerves, phantom limbs illuminated by pain. But behind the dull ache and discreet terror, there is a resilient beauty. And an openness. Her work resonates with echoes of the work being done and undone - the shuddering rhythm of countless erasures, and the presence of penciled figures left unerased from early drafts, like pictographs from past lives.

Betty Goodwin, Figure/Ladder Series, IV, 1996

11 comments:

Jo Horswill said...

Kate...what a beautiful post and tribute...
I have been having similar feelings to you over Betty Goodwins work.
I have certainly been gazing at her work since you introduced me to her :)
She was truly unique, she had a sensitivity to each and every artistic response she made...a wonder to behold, and absolutely inspirational.
Jo xx

Uschi said...

I've never heard of her before but only these three pictures you show are something touching, moving and stunning!
Thank you!!

Jeane said...

Hi Kate - I can certainly see the connection you must have with this artist's work - she is new to me and I can hardly wait to seek out more of her images - a wonderful tribute.

Janette Kearns Wilson said...

How lovely you are back I so love the work you do

mansuetude said...

thanks for sharing this, i love the way the review is written with passion, love:

"Her work resonates with echoes of the work being done and undone - the shuddering rhythm of countless erasures" and this is so true of an expression of the inner thing, the inner life; our self being written and rediscovered, aspect by aspect, day by day.

lovely.

rivergardenstudio said...

Beautful images and a lovely post. Thank you for sharing Betty Goodwin with me. roxanne

Jacky said...

Thank you for introducing me to Betty Goodwins work... it is very touching.

Lovely tribute.

A rambling rose said...

This is beautiful work and thank you for introducing her to me too! I agree with Jo's comments - thank you

frannie said...

Kate, I am also drawn to Betty Goodwin's work and can't express why except that it gets me in the gut. I went to an exhibition of hers at the Montreal Museum way back in the 80s. Very powerful. Thanks for the tribute.

kate said...

All...I am touched that all of you are moved by the work of Betty Goodwin. I'm so glad that I could introduce you to her. Thanks for your lovely comments!

Mansuetude...I'm not surprised at all that you were moved by the words describing her work.

Yarner said...

Hi, I never heard of Betty Goodwin before today. I went to the local Goodwill store and there was an interesting quilt for a double bed with a little tag saying it was one of Betty's Custom Quilts. Being a quilter myself, I had to rescue this item and then look her up online to see who Betty is and perhaps see for how much she would sell this quilt. I am amazed to see that Betty was such a versatile artist--but not actually surprised, since fiber art today is so much more than it was when my grandmother gave me some scraps, a needle, and a spool of thread, many, many years ago. Altho it is quite too late to make her acquaintance, I thank you for the introduction to Betty Goodwin.