Alumnus Cody Goodin ’80 discusses his time at Thomas More and his journey as an artist since graduating. Don’t miss Cody’s upcoming exhibit, “The Madness in My Head,” which will be at the Eva G. Farris Gallery September 15 through October 3, 2022.
See more of Cody’s artwork on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/codyart/
(Written interview compiled from in person and Q&A responses)
1. What drew you to Thomas More as a student?
Well, to be perfectly honest, it was very close to home. My guardian, my grandmother, who raised me at the time, felt that it would be a good school to go to because she had heard lots of good things about it. I had actually attended a little summer camp workshop experience with the science department when I was in high school, so I kind of knew about it, and so that’s how I ended up going there.
2. What stands out in your mind about your student experience?
Actually, there are several things. The biggest thing I think that I took away, aside from my education, was the community experience. Everyone, especially the instructors, were very accommodating, welcoming, interested, and invested in their students. I made a lot of good friends through my experience at Thomas More. And then my education was, I think, very superior to some that might come out of universities (Thomas More became a university in 2018). Because our department was so small, you had as much instruction as you wanted or as much as the teacher felt like putting up with. So, it was a very intensive but very well received education. I am so happy that I got the education that I did.
3. Have you stayed in contact with former classmates?
Oh, yeah, mostly through Facebook because they’ve all moved to other parts of the country. I do have a few friends that are still here locally, and we do stay in contact with each other. I haven’t had the opportunities to really get together so much. We have from time to time, but life gets in the way.
4. Can you give us a short history behind your career path since graduation and how Thomas More may have affected your decisions?
My career path is not necessarily typical. One thing that people may see when they read my biography is that I’m additionally an impaired artist. So being legally blind through most of my life, I was not able to drive a car. Typically, artists will do a couple of things. They will do a lot of art shows where they travel around the country and try to sell their work. That was something that was just not possible for me. So, I just started making art and I wasn’t super concerned about selling tons of it at first because I felt like I didn’t know who I was as an artist. The education was absolutely wonderful, but I think you don’t have enough life behind you yet to realize what you want to do. So eventually I found my way through art materials retail. I was in that for 30+ years. I introduced myself to so many different artists, and so through that experience, I was able to participate in a lot of different shows. I ended up getting a studio away from home. I have a studio at home and one away. That has allowed me to experience the art world, but in a much different way than I think most students think they’re going to. Because I didn’t want to live out the typical thought of what an artist is, a starving artist that can never make money. I didn’t want to do that. So that’s why I got a day job, and the day job allowed me to pursue my art as a secondary career. But the bonus for me was working in an art materials retail environment. I have lots of art materials to play with. Over the years, I developed a huge knowledge base about materials, how materials function, and what you use them for. I became sort of like this walking encyclopedia of art materials and art material processes. That served me very well in my pursuit of art.
5. Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming solo exhibition, which will be at the Eva G. Farris gallery Sept. 15 – Oct. 3, 2022.
It’s called “The Madness in My Head.” I really racked my brain. Once Liz Neal (director of the Thomas More Eva G. Farris gallery) offered me the show, I kept thinking, what am I going to do? What do I want to say? And I thought, this is an opportunity to show a sort of retrospective of my life. Because the art runs a range of interests and things that I do. I’m predominantly a textile-based artist, but I do have some sculpture. I did make one kind of artist books. There’s going to be a wide variety of things, but it chronicles my life as an artist and shows what I do with my art. I use my art a lot for personal healing and for uplifting myself and other and asking questions about life. It’s very storytelling in a way. It’s a cross section. I do not consider myself a predominantly intellectual based artist. I’m very much interested in art from the heart and how it affects the viewer or the audience, and how it affects me when I make this.
6. Any advice for current students?
First and foremost, be authentic to yourself. Don’t push yourself into anything when you’re not ready. Don’t think you’ve got it all figured out once you graduate, because you don’t. You’ve got so much life ahead of you. Experience as much as you can. Be gentle on yourself and just do it. Just take the time, even if it’s only an hour or two. A day or an hour or a week; do as much as you can to feed that creative process. Some people are lucky, and they go into a particular branch of art that gives them employment right away, like graphic arts and things like that. But fine artists who paint or sculpt or whatever is that they do aren’t always so lucky. It takes a lot of persistence, especially if you’re trying to get gallery representation. But nowadays, there’s way more opportunities to show your work than there was when I graduated. There was no internet when I graduated. It was all by word-of-mouth and whatever show you could get in. But now you’ve got the internet, you’ve got social media, and there’s so many art institutions here in Cincinnati now that didn’t exist back when I was a student. So just be yourself. Do the work. Show up everyday or as often as you can to your studio or create a clip, then just do it.