Abstract wall hangings reflect one woman’s journey
Kathy Goodson had a terrible year, and she coped through color. “That period of time was very sad,” says Goodson, a silk painter and partner artist at Flow Gallery in Marshall. In 2009, she lost her mother, and, because of the previous year’s economic downturn, her job as an academic teacher for children homebound by illness. Months later, still mired in grief, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “Everything changed,” she notes.
After moving from Charlotte to the Madison County community of Spring Creek to live with her soon-to-be husband — she has since moved to Asheville — Goodson swiveled her attention to creating silk wall hangings. Close to the Chest, a tapestry rife with bright pinks and reds against a shock of deep navy, was one of the first pieces she produced during that time.
“I drew a vertical line that curved in the middle, and then I drew another half circle. When I stepped back, the shapes looked like the curve of a woman’s breast,” says Goodson. “I started there, and then drew a poppy on top. I wanted something good to come of my cancer.”
Close to the Chest symbolizes Goodson’s decision to find beauty in loss — to make art from misery — and to do so full time. “If not now, then when?” Goodson muses.
Some 20 years prior, feeling overcrowded by her roles as wife and mother, she purchased a silk-scarf painting kit for kids. “I needed to renew my spiritual connection to art,” says the Georgia native, who grew up with a vivid imagination and dabbled in theater. “That connection gets beaten out of us or just lost, but it’s still there.”
She read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and was inspired by the concept of weekly, solo expeditions into various mediums — “artist dates,” Cameron calls them. A child’s craft kit felt a bit eccentric, especially for a woman in her forties, but when Goodson watched the vivid colors spread across the silk, she felt a spark: “I could feel the child inside me jumping up and down. I felt free.”
She soon produced a line of commissionable silk wearables and lampshades, most with botanical motifs. But her work has since veered toward fine art — abstract wall hangings that are both striking and significant. Awash in vivid purples and muted grays, Smokey Reflections embodies the aftermath of the 2016 Gatlinburg fires. The inferno consumed three buildings at the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, where Goodson had stayed for a Silk Painters International conference just a week prior.
Currents, a larger wall hanging with swirling shades of green and smatterings of red, offers a more open-ended interpretation.
“The piece reminded me of movement — the currents of water, air, and life,” says Goodson. “I love the freedom of abstraction. I don’t know exactly where I am going, but I let the art take me there.”
Kathy Goodson, Asheville. Goodson is represented by Flow Gallery (14 South Main Street, Marshall) and will participate in the gallery’s show “Adornaments: Unique Handmade Ornaments” running through Dec. 31 (flowmarshall.com) For more information, visit kathygoodson.com or see the artist’s ETSY shop: DreamSilks.