New Anderson Gallery exhibit commemorates VCU alumna’s work

Alex Carrigan
Contributing Writer

The Anderson Gallery of VCU unveiled their new gallery for the Fall semester. The exhibit, “Early Abstractions,” features the work of abstract artist Judith Godwin.

The exhibit samples the work of Godwin from the ’50s and ’60s and displays some of her most well-known works from the era, including “Nucleus No.2” and “Parrot.”

Godwin studied at VCU when it was the Richmond Professional Institute. She studied with notable VCU artists Theresa Pollak, for whom the VCU Pollak building is named after and Jewett Campbell. After graduating in 1952, she moved to New York where she produced many of the works on display in the gallery’s new exhibit.

Godwin’s work emphasizes an in-depth exploration of abstract art as well as womanhood.

In a quote that accompanies her exhibit, Godwin says that “painting is for me, as a woman, an act of freedom, and a realization that the images generated by the female experience can be a powerful and creative expression for all humanity,” Godwin also said that to have used her surroundings in New York, particularly with her Japanese neighbors, was an inspiration for her work.

The gallery exhibition was organized by the Dean of VCUarts, Joe Seipel and René Barilleaux, the Chief Curator of the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio. Godwin, Seipel and Barilleaux appeared at a forum on Thursday, Sept. 6 at the Grace Street Theater to discuss the works in the exhibit and share details about Godwin’s life.

“I’m not an intellectual painter,” Godwin said. “I’m more of an emotional painter and I do what I feel like doing.”

“Judith Godwin: Early Abstractions” opened Friday at the Anderson Gallery to students and fans of Godwin’s work.The visitors showed interest in Godwin’s work, primarily through her use of color and shapes.

Robert Shropshire, a senior philosophy major, began his Friday evening at the gallery.

“Some of them were painted right around when my mother was born, and this is all about female expression,” Shropshire said. “She’s my creator, and so I’m somehow superimposing the feminine onto the whole experience.”

Ashley Kistler, Director of the Anderson Gallery, said that the works of Godwin displayed her “tenacious vision despite early challenges and revealed her continued relevance in the art world.”

“A lot of painters that are not recognized stuck with what they believed in, and that was what they wanted to do,” Godwin said on Thursday. “They did it for no other reason other than this is what they did. They were true to what they really felt.”

“Judith Godwin: Early Abstractions,” will be on display at the Anderson Gallery from Sept. 7 to Dec. 9. A sister exhibit, “Gesture: Judith Godwin and Abstract Expressionism” is on display at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts until Jan. 27.

“Gesture” features fifteen works of Godwin over the span of her career and can be found alongside contemporary works from artists such as Norman Lewis and Joan Mitchell.

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