The landscapes of Christina Goodwin settle into consciousness in a way that belies the person. They are looming, vivid dreamscapes that show nary a human body, yet evoke emotionless eyes that we fear watch us from behind sunglasses and tinted car windows, force us to imagine arms draped callously on steering wheels, anxious, restrained drivers stranded in traffic, a foot poised above brake or accelerator.
Goodwin's buses are like tipped old men and women, kidnapped school children, her tractors like stalled tools of destruction. Her factories are lonely havens for the disconnected, the smoke from their stacks not from a beckoning hearth, but a signal that danger is here, living among us in the guise of isolation and heartless production. Her office buildings are places where cars go to work and then sit in their rectangular spaces all day, waiting desperately to get back on the road, if only the rain will stop and the flood waters recede. It is as though she finds, over and over again, the remnants of our inner lives in the steel and concrete of our cars and roads. Our humanity hangs in the balance as first we drive our machines, then they drive us and finally we simply become them.
Her sunny Coolidge Corner apartment does not tell the same tale. When she isn't actually painting, her bedroom on one end and kitchen on the other forces her to walk through her studio dozens of times a day, passing her artwork where it leans against the wall, face back. Her paints are piled under a huge palette, her windows open wide to the afternoon sun. She is cheerful, welcoming, gracious, as if in painting she has exorcised all of her demons, and if possible her audience's demons, too. She is not a surly artist overwhelmed or depressed by the world, but just the opposite, someone who has seen the inner enemy and vanquished it through introspection and paint. The contrast is telling. She is not her art. She is her own creation, warm, inviting and optimistic.
When its back is not facing the wall, "The Abandoned Train" grabs the eye and forces the viewer to notice the contrast between a fresh, stark concrete ribbon of highway and the shadow that juts out from the eponymous train that is virtually sinking into the earth beneath. Its brilliant blue sky, punctured by soaring street lamps cannot do anymore than shed a sudden light on the old train, probably a commuter car, but in our imaginations a representative of time past, luxury travel, smiling conductors and long, leisurely trips to visit cherished aunts. It frames a heavy mix of nostalgia and reality as if the painting is weighing in on our lives. You think your memories are the story of your life, but in fact, the real story is as much in the abandonment of the car, the grass that grows up around it, as it is in its former life. It is hard to believe that Goodwin is so young.
A 2005 graduate of Boston University with a degree in painting, Goodwin is not a newcomer to Boston's streets. She has captured the essence of the city that we all take for granted. She walks the streets, camera in hand, snapping away at what she knows lies just beneath the surface. It will take paint to reveal it. Her "Alley" could be behind any Beacon Hill or Back Bay street, her cars and trucks and buses could be practically anywhere, but the light, the posture, the attitude are nearly exact evocations of place. In "Times Square" she creates an unmistakable likeness of the New York City icon, crossroads for a vast and faceless humanity, a product of her time spent at a Cooper Union art residency.
Goodwin's work is slated to appear later this year in the National Juried Exhibition of the Academy of Fine Arts in Lynchburg, VA. Originally from Marblehead, she has twice exhibited in solo shows there and in Portland, ME. Her works have appeared consistently in group exhibitions since 1998 and she has won a handful of awards. She is not currently represented by a gallery, but is working toward that. It is only a matter of time. In the meantime, for now, her works are still affordable. She can be reached through her website.