Betty Goodwin has been closely associated with the Montréal art scene since the late 1960s, and is recognized as a leading figure in Canadian contemporary art. Informed by ontological concerns that resonate humanist views, her multidisciplinary body of work has developed into a series of vast cycles created in various media that include drawing, engraving, collage, painting, assemblage, sculpture and installation. Centered on themes of the body, loss, mourning and passage, her works address the fragility and uncertainty of existence with great sensitivity.

Betty Goodwin began painting and drawing as a self-taught artist. In 1968, she studied etching under Yves Gaucher at Sir George Williams University in Montréal, and began a new phase of production marked by her innovative printing technique, where clothes passed through a printing press leave a direct imprint on paper. The major series that punctuated her practice communicate her heartrending vision of the human condition. The prints exploring articles of clothing—Vest, Gloves, Hat—announce a theme that would recur throughout her work: that of the trace and absence, the self and the other. The Nest works speak of both fragility and strength; the Tarpaulin and Kite series are metaphors for coverings; Tomb and Passage explore the theme of transition; the Swimmers are suspended between drowning and resurfacing; the Distorted Events attest to human cruelty; the cloudy, turbulent skies of the Beyond Chaos series propel us into a world beyond. Over a career spanning more than half a century, Goodwin has distinguished herself, in Canada and internationally, through her innovative practice and her striking visual language.

Portait of Betty Goodwin.
Photo: courtesy of Gaétan Charbonneau