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‘Sacred Mother – Sacred Earth’

Foyer Gallery Newsletter

By Toby Jaxon (Foyer Gallery Curator)

-Inspired by Mother Earth-


For the month of May, mixed media artist Karen Goodfellow muses, with amazement, the sacredness of our planet and our interaction with ‘her’, represented in reflective paintings and altered objects.


When most people think of paintings, they think 2D, but Goodfellow pushes the limit so that her paintings project in wild combinations of three dimensions using real earth media such as silica, paint mine pigments, minerals, sand, natural stone and metals juxtaposed man-made media (Tyvek construction plastic, metal found objects, thrift store treasures, and upcycled trash). Goodfellow’s mixed media mannequin sculptures merge plasticized textile hardener, rusty objects and found treasures, inspired by the stages of the feminine…Maiden, Mother and Matriarch.


Then, on the cheeky side, Goodfellow releases her ‘Inner Brat’ creating altered wooden shoe forms inspired by walking the earth. All of these titles include walking or journeys. Then next step (excuse the pun) is to upcycle the shoes based on the initial theme, in sassy combinations such as shoes riding on rusty old barn door wheels.


When I asked Goodfellow what kind of artist she considers herself, it wasn’t just a simple reply. “Good question…I used to consider myself a contemporary aboriginal artist and used art for healing with aspect of my identity and coming to terms with both my First Nations and European ancestry. Without any conscious thought, my art has shifted and this show in particular is a combo of land-based, geological figurative and abstract paintings, with a twist of reverence for the sacredness of our planet with a splash of irreverence to balance it out. What would that be called? Likely Mixed Up, Mixed Media Artist with a winking emoji!”. 


Goodfellow goes on to say, “As I am nearing 60, I have been reflective of the stages of my own life and how I thought being young was the end all and be all. Although I never gave birth and became a mother that way, I certainly have witnessed the growth, ripening, and wisdom arising from mothers. There’s a fullness and a bloom that gives a richness to the more one-dimensional aspects of youth.” she admits, “Then, after menopause and heading into the ‘elder’ years there truly is a wisdom, a trust, and a deep surrender to the ways of the world. Not as a giving up but a depth of understanding and a deep knowing (versus a knowing about) that can be shared with family, friends, colleagues, and strangers. When a deciduous tree starts to die, it gives off the greatest colour in the Fall…hence the rich tones in ‘The Matriarch’.”


Goodfellow is a master of appositions. She uses earth tones combined with gem stone colours; the crunchiness of stark rocks set against the soft desert palette periwinkle coloured sage, turquoise gemstones, and rich earth tones like ochres and siennas. Her creative stimulation starts with her ancestry -- Squamish Nation and Austrian. Desert-like landscapes inform her artwork in different ways due to living in the American Southwest for 5 years and now in Osoyoos. Goodfellow is interested in the Divine Feminine, creationary forces and what is transpiring on our planet as we interact and rely on it for sustenance. 


For her paintings, Goodfellow chose to paint on kitchen cabinets so that they wouldn’t end up in the landfill. “Although it was way more difficult to work with, I feel this is what it will take…for us to be in discomfort in order to ensure sustainability. I am totally into systemic thinking now…how everything is woven together…good, bad, ugly and indifferent. That is an underlying theme.”


Goodfellow left the corporate world in 1997 and started teaching at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Centre shortly after. This represented her transition from dabbling into something that is a mainstay of her life. Beyond art and teaching, Goodfellow is passionate about being a grandparent and an aunt, fireside chats with hot cocoa, wildlife viewing and supporting organizations that improve team relationships. Her next aspirations are to delve into land-based encaustics because of the natural properties of beeswax and damar tree resin, as well as personal contemporary totems.



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