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.