Kathy Goodell: Infra-Loop at the Dorsky Museum

In Dialogue with Kathy Goodell

Kathy Goodell, Mesmer Eyes, 2020, ink on synthetic paper, 120 x 300”, photo courtesy of Ferris Ramirez

Infra-Loop, Kathy’s Goodell’s survey exhibition at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in New Paltz, explores the visual vocabulary that runs throughout the artist’s diverse disciplines, across geographies and time periods. Guest curator and artist Andrew Woolbright brings together more than 40 artworks including paintings, sculptures, and multimedia installations from 1994 to 2020. This is the first time Goodell’s work has been presented on a large scale. The exhibition runs through July 11th.

Andrew Woolbright says the meaning of your work is “simultaneous and withheld”—West Coast spiritualism meets East Coast abstraction; procedural non-objectivity blends with painterly biomorphism; protean theosophy informs post-modernist contemporary. What is your take on that?

I am looking for ‘ecstatic knowledge’ rather than learned knowledge, that ‘OhYeah!’ moment. I value spontaneity and a visionary exploration devoid of contrivance. I very often use a palimpsest kind of layering, to signify the idea of language but disembodied from time, a timelessness. Experiential all the way through. They are representative of a state of mind that creates a sense of wholeness and inclusivity. So there is a kinship with work that shares these aspirations across the board.

Kathy Goodell, Traumas On The Way To Nirvana, 2020, Flashe on Canvas, 42” x 44, Photo courtesy of Nick Rouke

Let’s take a closer look at some of the work and start with two recent paintings. For instance, the monochromatic In a Land Where We Never Grow Old and Mojos until infinity—both feature energetic linear marks bouncing in sharp staccatos in all directions over a hinted grid. They both remind me of an enigmatic calligraphy, the essence of a landscape, closeup of multiple cells. What is your take on my reading? Can you tell me about the genesis of these paintings and the process behind?

I love that you use the word ‘essence’ of landscape, as I consider these works as ‘improvisational manuscripts’. And In a land Where We Never Grow Old as related to human cultural constructs . I am interested in structuring a space that can be read in multiple ways simultaneously. Mojos Until Infinity was done on two scrolls of mulberry paper backed with silk which butt up to each other. I work on the paper side because I like the reaction the paper has to the application of paint, emphasizing the crispness of the substrate. The directional changes of the marks allude to an underlying grid which is a byproduct of my love of movement. In the words of Octavia Butler, ‘Change is God’. Or as in the Drake song “Oh-Oh, I guess that’s just the motion, yeah!”

Probably at the genesis of my work is my obsession with time and its non-linearity.

Kathy Goodell, In A Land Where We Never Grow Old, 2020, Liquid Graphite, Flashe, acrylic on unstretched canvas,63 x 62”, Photo courtesy of Nick Rouke

Kathy Goodell, Mojos Until Infinity, 2020, Flashe, ink on Mulberry Paper over Silk, 60 x 60”, Photo Courtesy of Nick Rouke

In The Parable of the Phantom City, color is more vivid. Your palette seems to be quite diverse. Tell me about the color in this painting and what is your approach to color overall?

The Parable of the Phantom City and Traumas on the Way to Nirvana are related to treading through history, and how elusive progress can be. I chose the palette related to moments in our history. I was questioning cultural associations, like purple representing the regal, and gold representing wealth and then subverting those associations. The memory comes from looking at the history of painting and objects. While making these two paintings I was disturbed by the breaking down of societal structures. My titles give strong clues about these connections and I choose color to assist in the meaning rather than as an aesthetic choice. For example, Mesmer Eyes, containing 10,800 paintings contains every color I could imagine because the meaning is related to diversity.

Kathy Goodell, The Parable of the Phantom City, 2020, Flashe and Liquid Graphite on Canvas, 50 x 50”, Photo Courtesy of Nick Rouke

You also exhibit three-dimensional works. Donnald Goddard, in New York Art World wrote that one approaches your sculptures “ with caution and a sense of immanence, not necessarily as opposed to transcendence but as of another presence.” What is your take on this and how do you see the relationship between your painting and sculpture?

I think my sculptures are related to instruments which measure and alter the energies in their environment. I first left painting as a young artist to work with the tangible and materiality of sculpture so that I could ultimately discover the intangible. I think about the language of painting as a code, which gradually releases and unlocks recognition. So this happens by being open to poetic shifts. The sculpture Sounding, done in 2007 never found its potential until this survey—as its vortex was made to encompass its surroundings. It came into fruition with its relationship to Mesmer Eyes, as it ingested it into its center core.

Kathy Goodell, Installation View, Sounding, 2007, Glass, wood, 26 x 26 x 26” , and Mesmer Eyes 3, 2020, Ink and synthetic paper, 120 x 300”, photo courtesy of Ferris Ramirez

This is a survey exhibition and seeing your artwork over a timespan at this scale for the first time most likely makes you find new connections within your own work. Can you share your thoughts about the relationship between your early and recent work? Were you surprised in some ways?

I was literally blown away. We titled the show Infra-Loop because I kept referring to the reinvention of my ‘modus operandi’ through different time periods and in different mediums and how circular they seemed. One particularly ecstatic experience was when we hung a 2020 painting, Things To Come placed near a 1994 sculpture Primal. A bird always sings the same song. With me, it has varying renditions of the same tune.

Installation Photo, Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, 2021, Courtesy Of Nick Rouke

“Kathy Goodell: Infra-Loop, Selections 1994–2020” opens Feb. 6- July 11, 2021 t The Dorsky Museum Wednesday–Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. State University of New York at New Paltz 1 Hawk Drive, New Paltz, NY12561

Etty Yaniv works on her art, art writing and curatorial projects in Brooklyn. She founded Art Spiel as a platform for highlighting the work of contemporary artists, including art reviews, studio visits, interviews with artists, curators, and gallerists. For more details contact by Email: artspielblog@gmail.com