Briefly describe the work you do.
I make work around the theme of coping strategies, drawing from psychology, cultural theories and personal experience to look at the way we deal with difficult emotions such as grief, anxiety and loss. I’m also interested in issues of power in the mental health industry. My primary medium is photography, but I tend to think of myself a contemporary artist using images, among other methods, to explore topics that interest me. That said, I absolutely love the camera as a tool, and find the process of photographing, especially with my large format camera, to be both meditative and exciting at the same time.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
Growing up, I had to fend for myself a lot. This resulted in my being a voracious reader, and consumer of media. Today, this shows itself in my love of research. When working on a project I become immersed in the ideas behind it, and try to read everything I can about the subject. Eventually this process leads to me making an actual object, but I enjoy the exploration leading up to it as much as the making itself.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
My studio is a second bedroom in my house, so I do in fact spend a good amount of time in there alone, toiling away. I leave to photograph, as most of my work in that realm isn’t studio-based, but now that I print digitally, even when shooting film, I spend a great deal of time in front of my computer. I hope in the long run to have a studio in a more collaborative environment, as I find nothing spurs me on more than conversations with other artists.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I never imagined that I would incorporate my own personal narrative in my work. I began photography most interested in producing documentary work. It was only when I actually worked as a documentary photographer that I realized it wasn’t for me.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I work two jobs in addition to making art, so I just get into the studio whenever I can. I definitely think and function better in the evenings, so typically after leaving my day job I’ll come home, make dinner and head to my studio for a few hours. It’s exhausting, but it’s the only way I can fit it all in right now!
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
I hope that my work has matured in the way it communicates to the viewer. Five years ago I was about to begin graduate school. While I was making art at the time, I didn’t have the clarity of thought or the technical skill that I have now. My interests, however, have stayed fairly consistent. Psychology has always fascinated me, and it’s been a part of my work all along. I’ve simply delved deeper, and become more specific in terms of the references I am making.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
Absolutely. My immediate family, especially my mother and father, are the inspiration for a number of projects. As for writing, Foucault’s History of Madness is something I often come back to, as well as the work of researcher Sander Gilman, whose books I have tagged, highlighted and underlined until they are falling apart.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
I like to think I would be a researcher of some sort. I am quite content working alone, and solving puzzles.
Jodie Mim Goodnough is a Providence, Rhode Island-based artist who uses photography, video, performance and sculpture to examine the various coping strategies we employ to find comfort in an often uncomfortable world, from religious rituals to pharmaceuticals and everything in between. She attended the photojournalism program at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine and received her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in May 2013. Her work has been shown in galleries nationally including at the Midwest Center for Photography and the William Morris Hunt Library of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and has been published in Lenscratch and Fraction Magazine.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.