Colorful…intricate…fun….outrageous: these are adjectives typically used to describe the contemporary folk art of Elayne Goodman.
As with many folk artists, her art creations begin with found objects: a old cigar box, a thrift store figurine, a used globe or child’s doll…just about anything can be transformed into Goodman magic. She combines these objects into brightly painted creations that could charm your socks off. Complex patterns and whimsical verse of her own composition are some of her trademarks.
Elayne was reared in rural Mississippi near Columbus. About the genesis of her style she says, "in the depression era we had limited materials and time for creativity. I learned to waste neither. I have done this style of art since I was a teenager. Since I had never seen other art work of this nature, I felt it was unacceptable in the art world. I never showed it or offered it for sale until 1990. I am a self-taught artist but in my 40's I worked part time for a degree and graduated at age 49 with a BFA. The art faculty at MUW convinced me that my style had merit and encouraged me to show my work."
Goodman’s long-time interested in art was put aside in favor of what was viewed as a "more practical" first career choice. She was a surgical nurse until 1980, when she took a break and never returned. She earned that BFA at the Mississippi University for Women, graduating summa cum laude in 1989. But even her nursing skills affect her art. "Everything about surgical nursing is organization," she says. "And that's also true in the type of art I do. I have hundreds of plastic shoe boxes and they are labeled and somewhat in order and sorted. That enables me to work a little bit faster. The organization is basically how my work is done. I take this and this and this and put it together in some reasonable manner.
Goodman is best known for her intricately painted spheres.
Today, she has some fairly impressive collectors of her work. Most famous for her painted art balls that are created in traditional, colorful patters, Goodman’s work is owned by the likes of Julia Roberts and best selling author, Anne Rivers Siddons. It has been seriously eyed by actor Nick Cage who expressed an interest in one of her Elvis Presley-themed pieces.
Nicolas Cage spotted Goodman's "Altar to Elvis" (photo unavailable) in a New York City gallery and wanted it, the artist says. He was willing to pay the $15,000 price tag but balked at the $2,000 shipping fee. "If the gallery owner had called me, I would have driven to Nic's house and set it up for him," laughs Goodman. A photo of "Altar to Elvis" has appeared in Rolling Stone magazine. Here are photos of two of her Elvis themed pieces.
Julia Roberts bought one of her globes (photo unavailable) from the Red Piano Too gallery in St. Helena Island, South Carolina. The piece is covered, top to bottom, with witty maxims about art like "The artist will allow his mother, wife, and children to starve so that he can produce art."
Growing up on a working farm in rural Mississippi, Goodman learned to make do with what was available. "There was absolutely no money," Goodman says. "But my mother let us play with her sewing scraps, needle and thread, scissors, and razor blades, even when we were small. I sewed on an old treadle sewing machine from the time I was six, and the idea of using everything came out of that era of my life. They threw away nothing. All that did influence my art."
Goodman has lived her entire life in Columbus, except for brief stints in Memphis and Atlanta. The contemporary folk artist's work has been included in the books The Button Lover's Book by Marilyn Green and Elvis Culture: Fans, Faith, and Image by Erika Doss. Her art can be found in public and private collections across the country.
Goodman strives to make her art cheerful and optimistic. "There's enough of the other stuff," she says. "People tell me all the time, 'Every time I look at the piece I bought, it makes me feel good.' That's what I'm after.
Woman of Virtue
Goodman's work is featured in THIS video along with that of six other notable folk artists. Unfortunately, the quality of the video is poor.:
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