Friday, January 16, 2009
There were prints, assemblage, sculpture, drawings, and paintings. The smallest work in the show caught my eye. While I am quite familiar with much of Betty Goodwin's work, I hadn't encountered this piece before. It was a small plexiglass box with the skeleton of a small bird attached by wire to a metal plate and a handful of long black hair coiled like a nest beneath it. The bird's skeleton was mostly exposed with some evidence of dried flesh. It was exquisite. Typical of Betty Goodwin's work, it was stark yet tenderly vulnerable.
I was drawn to the tiny pearlescent feet of the bird and was immediately taken back a few months ago to a bird that flew into our window and did not survive. At that time, I was moved by the fragile beauty of this dead bird and I photographed it. Revisiting these photos, triggered by and connected to the piece I viewed yesterday, and experienced in the state of melancholy that I have been inhabiting lately, gives me great comfort. I share some of those photos with you now and perhaps the emotion which accompanies them.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
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.