SUSAN NEET GOODWIN
Friday, February 5th, 2016
“My first piece in which the human face is an important feature was a response to the Iranian hostage crisis. Since then many of my sculptures have become vehicles for political and humanitarian concerns.
This enduring concept is an ongoing series about us, the differences and commonalities of human beings. I pay tribute to world peoples, investigating their unique and often beautiful characteristics. For some, time is of the essence because they suffer from cultural dilution, adaptation, repression, discrimination, or simply from small and dwindling numbers, while others are part of the homogenization of humankind in which distinctive identities are put aside or lost.
I concentrate on what makes each group unique, but I sculpt the similarities as well. The reality for many small clusters of people is that they struggle to maintain the unique quality of their lives as they jockey to survive and to find a place in the world. For example, homogenization and cultural suppression were Soviet goals for decades. Yet only four years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the Buryats, the indigenous people around Lake Baikal were working to rebuild their cultural patterns and teach them to their young. It is a difficult task with most of their elders gone. Worldwide and throughout time their story is shared.
My wish is that with exposure and education we could learn to appreciate the enormous diversity of people, recognize our similarities, make space for us all, and celebrate the details that make us different from each other.
Often those details are stunning artistically. Consider Himba skin coated with butterfat and ocher, a protection from desert insects and intent sun. Likewise, envision Malagasy cemetery sculpture, Saami clothing, and a Ndebele beadwork. Even the familiar New England stone walls are relevant, reminders of people who divided and controlled land for individual use. The list is endless.
The visual highlights may catch our attention, but the hard work is to learn about and to appreciate the diversity that humans exhibit worldwide.
I also sculpt non-cultural pieces that emphasize gesture, expression, and design. Currently, I am beginning a series of American workers of the northeast.”