Betty Roodish Goodwin

Betty Roodish Goodwin, painter (b at Montréal 19 Mar 1923; died there 1 December 2008). Betty Goodwin began her career as a visual artist in the late 1940s and began to exhibit her work in the early 1960s. Largely self-taught, Goodwin began with drawing, a practice she was comfortable with. She then started to experiment with other media, creating a dialogue and feedback between drawing and other media and losing herself in the process. Out of those experiments she discovered etching, which became her primary means of expression. She was also a sculptor, painter and installation artist who tended to work in series.

Concerned with the human condition, Goodwin's art resonates with the importance of our human ties and common experience. Themes of loss and mourning are balanced with courage and the hope for change in a complex and uncertain world. The subject matter of her work evokes ideas related to the memory of the body and where the body has been, as well as the passage of time. Perhaps some of her best-known work is a series of prints done in the early 1970s. With these, Goodwin used copper plates to take impressions of vests, gloves and tarpaulins, creating innovative etchings that look almost like X-rays or ghostly imprints of the objects.

Goodwin's influences included the writings of Franz Kafka and Primo Levi. Her work expressed her reaction to the current state of global media, which is readily available in the form of TV, radio, newspapers etc. She reminded us that we are now able to see things as they happen, but we watch the horrendous from a safe distance and remove ourselves from it. Goodwin used her art and the creative process as a means to cope with, and react to, world events and to share her thoughts on the issues.

A renowned Canadian artist, Betty Goodwin won several awards and honourable acknowledgments. In 1995 she was chosen to represent Canada in the Venice Biennial. Notable awards included the Lynch-Stauton Award of Distinction in 1983, the Banff Centre National Award for Visual Arts in 1984, the Prix Paul-Émile Borduas in 1986, a Gugenheim Foundation Fellowship in 1988 and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize in 1995. Goodwin was the first recipient of the Harold Town Prize for Drawing in 1998, and in 2003 she received the Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts. She also received honorary doctorates from various Canadian universities.