by Christy Rodriguez de Conte
The Anderson Brickler Gallery has mapped out a space for artist Valerie Goodwin to show off the intricate labor of love that a unique perspective on quilting can bring in “Mapping: The Work of a Textile Artist” exhibit. Goodwin will give a talk about the retrospective on Dec. 10 and the exhibit through Dec. 28.
Quilting and textile art have long been art fueled by necessity. The layering and sewing together of different fabrics and materials created a source of protection from the elements. Over the years, this widely female artisan practice evolved into a complex art form. It is this complexity and detail-focused making that caught Valerie Goodwin’s eye.
She has always been drawn to working with small parts because of her patience and joy of building. Yet, it was not until she began her educational journey at Yale University that she encountered an art form that would change her life. “I discovered architecture by accident,” admits Goodwin.
“When I was at Yale, I always took an art class. Fortunately, the art and architecture was a large building, and it had architecture as well as art in it. And I was just roaming about the building, and I saw all these people in the midst of all these drawings, design ideas, model making. I mean, there was just a certain energy that I was drawn to, and I immediately decided to change my major… It was one of the best decisions I ever made. “
Goodwin’s tenure as an architecture professor at Florida A&M University began in 1994, during which time she perfected a process of artistry that combined the maps and lines of architectural structures with the tools used in traditional quilt and textile making. Her work has been shown across the country, from New York City and Washington D.C. to the hometown galleries of Tallahassee.
Goodwin acknowledges that her knowledge of architecture had a significant influence on her artwork, with the symbiotic relationship shaping her understanding and experience as an artist. “Architecture is about the big picture, and with art, it becomes a more intimate space; however, you must know something about different disciplines that tie together the whole.”
Any educator will proudly admit that they are continuously learning from their students. It keeps one fresh and relevant and, at times, may even affect one’s own artistry. In addition to her own private pursuit of quilting knowledge, Professor Valerie Goodwin speaks of her students as inspiration. “I was using architectural ideas about composition in my work. I found myself using some of the things my thesis students were studying. I sort of incorporated some of their ideas, mainly areas of art.” Goodwin continues, “I saw a way of applying it in my way of thinking about the design.”
Goodwin does not work in traditional patchwork and instead relies on instinct and knowledge of the basic principles of design to improvise and think like a quilter. Her access to FAMU’s facilities over her career has provided Goodwin with the tools to establish a unique approach to textiles, primarily using a laser cutter to create intricate lace lines.
Goodwin’s making process uses various mediums and practices like hand stitching, applique, and fusing. Goodwin will often fuse the small pieces depending on the desired goal and then sew on top of those pieces. These layers have become a signature style in her work.
Read the rest of the article on the Tallahassee Democrat.
Learn more about the exhibition here.
Learn more about Anderson Brickler Gallery.