Eighteen-year-old Terry Goodman is tackling racism every time she puts paint to canvas. The upcoming artist is still experimenting and finding what she likes but, for now, a central theme in most of her work has been racism.
In a candid interview with Bajan Vibes, Goodman talked about the greatest challenges she has faced as a young artist in Barbados, the story behind some of her work and where she is going.
“For me, having people question why I’d pursue art as a career and tell me I am not going to make it has been the greatest challenge, just that negativity . . . which thankfully has been countered by strong familial support,” she said.
Art, however, is not the only thing that Goodman has been questioned about. She has also had to contend with questions about her race.
“Growing up, people always asked me where I was from, because for many, I do not look like the average black Bajan,” she said. “I’ve had people try to tell me what my race is based on my hair, and so I painted my piece Different Style, Same Race and each girl, one of them being me, has a different hair texture, one is kinky, one’s wavy and one is straight and this was just me saying regardless of the texture of her hair, if she says she is black, she’s black.”
Revealing that it was those experiences that would inspire her work and ultimately her piece Grains of Wood, she added: “Because for some people in their head, they think all black people are to look a certain way, so they say black people don’t look like me based on my complexion and my features, and I was like ‘yes they do’ and that is why I did my piece Grains of Wood.”
She said the social experiment which included 24 other people and herself revealed she wasn’t alone. “I didn’t want to make it just about me, I wanted to include other people with different skin tones, showing that they were all black, all different and all beautiful,” she explained.
“So I selected persons for the project somewhat randomly but I also explained to them the purpose of this project and I wanted to know prior if they had ever experienced something similar and for some of them with curly hair, many people asked if they were ‘mixed’, so it was really an eye opening experience.”
Goodman, a first year student at the Barbados Community College enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Arts programme, was intrigued by the themes in many of her class assignments.
“My piece, The Aftermath, primarily centered around slavery. We had an assignment in class where my tutor Mr. Branch told us to do a painting between a time period and I chose to do the period right after the abolition of slavery and though it may look like just a portrait, there is a greater story there,” she said.
“Post-slavery came with many issues but as it relates to families, one common issue was the fact that women raped by ‘Massa’ were now free with children belonging to ‘Massa’ and so I put paint to canvas and showed what family may have looked like post-slavery, black women with children of a lighter complexion and, in this case, her black man supporting her, despite the child not being his.”
In five years, the upcoming artist sees herself still in the world of art, learning and growing.
“Art is my passion. I love art and I knew from first form at secondary school that this is what I wanted to do. So I am most proud of the fact that I stuck with art despite everything because I tend to give up on things easily, but for some reason I can’t give up on art,” she remarked.
Though not certain on when her first show will be, she hopes within the next five years to share her work beyond Barbados. “I think every artist wants to have their own show eventually but I feel as if five years is so soon and I don’t see myself there as yet. I do believe that my work will be in someone’s gallery within the next five years,” Goodman said.
Regardless of where she will be, the young artist wants to raise awareness and challenge misconceptions through her work.