By Brigid Morrissey

Jen Goodell works on one of her many projects. Photo by Tarik Dozier 

Jen Goodell’s journey as an artist began with a realization: “I hated every art project in middle school. But eventually, I realized that the hardest part was getting myself to start.” Once she found the motivation to begin, the end result of her projects showed glimpses of the artist she could become. But Jen still thought of her brother as the artistic one.

By college, Jen’s procrastination with school art projects translated into a hesitation to take art on as her major. But her conviction that a degree in art “would be absurd” transformed into the envy of her fellow students who opted to take the artistic plunge. Eventually, she caved. Jen earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in surface design at Murray State University in 1999, where she also studied the processes of printmaking and weaving. “I was really interested in surface design,” she says, which encompasses the coloring, patterning, and structuring of fiber and fabric and can include painting, dyeing, quilting, and other techniques. “I always knew I was going to paint, but I figured that over the years I would develop my style.”

Lines is the name of this piece which is about the act of creativity and the energy or motion of creating something beautiful. “For me that is art, but for others, it could be dance, music, poetry or an event.”

Jen’s professors at Murray State stressed the abstract. In search of a different perspective, she attended Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts in Connecticut in the summer of 1996. There she received instruction on the classical approach.

Jen moved to Louisville in 2002 for a new, fresh environment. It was not art that led to the upheaval, but a job opening with My Gym Children’s Fitness Center teaching the Mommy & Me gymnastics classes. To say that Jen became obsessed with movement and the human body is an understatement. She started studying Joseph Pilates.

“This piece is from a series about interpersonal communication. It features two individuals who find a special kind of balance together and the energy and inspiration that can come from that communication.”

“The human body is capable of beautiful movement,” she says. “We’re designed to move at birth, but as we age and accommodate desk jobs and redundant motions, we lose it.” Jen also decided to become a physical therapy assistant with ResCare.

Jen’s work away from the canvas has translated onto it. Her interests in music and street art are apparent in her Interrobang?! and Single-Minded collections. The use of bright colors and patterns keep your eye constantly in motion, while the poses of her subjects leave you wanting to jump into the painting and join them. The strategic placement of painting styles and stencils leave you searching for similar features while simultaneously discovering new ones.

“This piece is about the trust in communication. It is the ability to let a person in to the point where you are trusting them to have your back in the good and bad times.” 

“I had to make my art fit myself and who I was,” Jen says. “I didn’t want to get stuck in one idea. I want to evolve.”

It is not a coincidence that Jen’s work has taken up residence at Dunn Physical Therapy, Suspend — Aerial Arts and Cirque Fitness, and the Tim Faulkner Gallery. These places encompass what Jen’s art is all about. “The artist process for me is about finding imagery and painting techniques that express a feeling of the fluidity of movement and the joy that comes with it: the joy of dancing, balancing, and breathing,” she says. “This is how I want to share my creativity with others.”

Laissez Faire is a new piece. I got this image from a trip to New Orleans. This girl would walk around in this dress and pose on the street for a tip. I found this image to be so whimsical that I wanted to paint it.”

See two of Jen’s aerial-inspired paintings at Suspend here.