Since the mid-twentieth century, philosophers, social scientists, psychologists, and historians have theorized that the behaviors and activities that distinguish men from women are not innate but socially constructed. According to this view, society directs people to behave in ways considered appropriate to their gender, regardless of the individual’s own sense of self.
As a young boy, Mike Goodlett (KY) discerned that art making would be an escape from these restrictive social norms and began to make works of art exploring ideas of human connection and gender identity. Channeling his thoughts and feelings in covert and concealed ways resulted in highly charged, enigmatic drawings, paintings, and sculptures. They comprise a unique visual language he refers to as abstracted intimacy. Instead of referencing human form directly, Goodlett thoughtfully creates a representation of desire, of the mysterious ways we are drawn to each other.
The works in this exhibition—ambiguous plaster and concrete forms that evoke the body—are meditations on closeness and human vulnerability. The artist considers these sculptures akin to a message in a bottle; he is connecting with a larger world, sending love notes, asking questions, and confessing secrets.
Our gratitude is extended to The Frank G. and Frieda K. Brotz Family Foundation, the West Foundation, Sargento Foods Inc., and the Herzfeld Foundation for major support of this exhibition and to the Wisconsin Arts Board, with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts. Funding also was provided by the members of the Exhibitions & Collections Giving Circle. In addition, Arts Center programs are made possible by the generous support of its members.