When the Current Shifts

Abstract wall hangings reflect one woman’s journey

Kathy Goodson turned a rough time into silk.
Photo by Rachel Pressley

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. 

Red Hibiscus

“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.”

Smokey Reflections

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.”

Large Pink Camellia from Emil Nolde’s Garden

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.

Close to the Chest

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.

9 Comments

  • Kathy what an impressive article and getting to hear your story thanks so much for sharing this with me you are such an inspiration I miss you here in Charlotte and hope we can get together when this pandemic is behind us

  • Kathy, your story and exquisite silks have always inspired me ~ congratulations on this wonderful expose’ on your pathwork! May you continue for years to come to bring healing color to yourself and the world!

  • Nice article on a woman and her art that literally rose out of the ashes!!! Her silk art is like the cream that has risen to the top. The cancer, mom’s passing, the Arrowmont fire (just a week after we were all there) and then here comes the light and beauty of her wonderful art rising up like the phoenix !!!!!
    We are all proud of you Kathy. You and your art are lovely.

  • I am proud to have worked with Kathy for the past 5 years at Flow Gallery in Marshall and have watched her work continue to evolve. Her silk paintings are gorgeous and brighten any room. Her scarves run from earth tones to bright accents for the body. And recently, Kathy has made some amazing encaustics which are amazing!

  • How wonderful to read this article and see some of your work and understand some of the context. Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished in your life. You have reason to be proud.

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