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Cass Corridor artist gains recognition at age 72 for her dark paintings

Dec 19, 2015

Michigan-raised artist Brenda Goodman is happy. That’s because she’s finally getting steady recognition from the art world, after years of rejection. This year Goodman won a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Goodman's "Self-Portrait 59"

The 72-year-old thinks part of the reason she’s becoming more well-known is because people are sharing her artwork on social media sites, which helps her reach new audiences.

Goodman was born and raised in Detroit and was part of the Cass Corridor art movement in the 1970s. These days, Goodman lives in upstate New York.

Brenda Goodman’s paintings are intense.

Goodman painted how she felt in "Self-Portrait 2"

Some of her most powerful paintings are self-portraits where ghoulish figures stuff their mouths with food. She painted them at a time when she was struggling with her weight.

And she tells Michigan Radio’s Kyle Norris that they weren’t even meant to be people, but rather, monsters.

“I had no intention of making them actually look like me. I wanted to make them feel like me. There’s a big difference. I felt monstrous like that, ugly like that, angry like that, repulsed like that. And that’s all communicated in those paintings.”

She says painting helps her survive.

“It’s my way of resolving whatever’s going on in my life. I paint it. Mind you, I had 15 or more years of therapy and was on different spiritual paths throughout my life. So I’ve always delved into who I am and not been afraid to look at the darker parts of myself.”

Artist Brenda Goodman says art matters because we need it for our souls.

She says many artists are afraid to go to those dark places, and instead paint nice, pleasant, and recognizable images. But Goodman says her willingness to dig deep makes her work full and real, and that’s the reason it resonates with people.

Self-portrait 2

This one's called "Not a Leg to Stand On"