Craig Goodworth

Newberg, OR | by August 25, 2011

Being close to nature is clearly impor­tant to Craig Good­worth. There is a sub­dued energy in Craig that seems to be gen­er­ated by liv­ing in a rural, some­what iso­lated area.  In this case, Oregon’s lush Willamette Val­ley, filled with vine­yards, orchards, and hop fields, where he relo­cated to about a year ago.

Before mov­ing to Ore­gon, Craig spent time as an artist-​​in-​​residence at a monastery in New Mex­ico and con­sid­ered becom­ing a monk.  Not sur­pris­ingly, his work is med­i­ta­tive and infused with issues of the sacred.  But Craig’s work walks a line of ten­sion cre­ated by oppo­sites — inti­macy and aggres­sion, heavy and light, sacred and pro­fane.  He is inter­ested in the bound­aries where these oppos­ing con­cepts shift.  As his work explores these ten­sions, it also addresses envi­ron­men­tal issues and often times the rela­tion­ship between peo­ple and the land.  Craig approaches these issues not from a par­tic­u­lar polit­i­cal angle but from a decid­edly spir­i­tual angle that may in its own way have a polit­i­cal read.

I met Craig soon after he arrived in Ore­gon. Prior to this stu­dio visit, I was most famil­iar with his sculp­tural work and per­for­mance video that I included in an exhi­bi­tion I orga­nized a few months ago.  These works incor­po­rated found objects includ­ing both man made objects like ropes and shov­els as well as objects cre­ated by nat­ural forces such as root masses and ani­mal carcasses.

In the per­for­mance Triduum, Craig comes across an elk car­cass in the Ari­zona moun­tains and begins ham­mer­ing dozens of large steel stakes through the dried hard skin and hol­lowed body.  He takes on a role that is part hunter, part artist, and part healer.  Craig spent three days with the elk –remov­ing the stakes on the third day and observ­ing as sun­light filled the empty cav­ity of the animal.

It was videos like these, cre­ated in the land­scape that made me curi­ous about Craig’s con­cept of a stu­dio, and how he works and devel­ops his art­work. When I vis­ited him most recently, he was in the process of prepar­ing for a draw­ing exhi­bi­tion at George Fox Uni­ver­sity, a local col­lege in New­berg, Ore­gon.  We looked at the new draw­ings that are a series based on honey bees, as well as older draw­ings of horses and fig­ures, some of which he has been re-​​working for years.

Craig is a superb draughts­man.  The draw­ings are beau­ti­fully made merg­ing both aggres­sive and del­i­cate marks to ren­der a nat­ural world made of sim­i­lar forces.

We also spent some time explor­ing the 90 acres where he lives and also works, sal­vage log­ging and cut­ting fire wood sev­eral hours every­day.  With an artist as med­i­ta­tive and as envi­ron­men­tally influ­enced as Craig, its seemed like the best way to learn about his stu­dio prac­tice and how he approaches art mak­ing was not so much to spend time talk­ing in his stu­dio but to spend time in his larger envi­ron­ment, walk­ing and talk­ing and ask­ing ques­tions.  We dis­cussed Craig’s inter­est in nature as stu­dio, ecol­ogy, the con­cept of the sacred, and his plans for future projects.  Although he has only been in Ore­gon a short while, after spend­ing time with Craig, sur­rounded by the awe­some beauty of the Willamette Val­ley, he seems very much at home.

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