For Judith Godwin, painting “is an act of freedom and a realization that images generated by the female experience can be a powerful and creative expression for all humanity.” From 1950, when she first exhibited her work, to the present, Godwin has held to her convictions, using a language of abstract form to respond with unbowed directness and passion to life and nature. Her aim throughout her career has been to “emphasize what is important by painting the image of my feelings on canvas—to accept my feelings honestly, and not [to] falsify.” Through her studies with Hans Hofmann, her long association with Martha Graham and Graham’s expressive dance movements, her participation in the early burgeoning of Abstract Expressionism, and her love for Zen Buddhism and gardening, Godwin has forged a personal and unique career path.
© Berry Campbell, New York
Like many other women artists of her generation, Godwin received less attention in the mid and late twentieth century from the press and public than her male counterparts. Godwin explained the bias behind this imbalance, recalling that at the time, “the men simply said, ‘Women can’t paint.’” However, the steadfast creativity and accomplishment of Godwin and other women of her time have become increasingly acknowledged and given overdue consideration. Among the recent efforts at such restitution was the June–September 2016 groundbreaking exhibition, Women of Abstract Expressionism, held at the Denver Art Museum, curated by University of Denver professor Gwen F. Chanzit. In the show, Godwin’s work is featured along with that of Mary Abbott, Perle Fine, Helen Frankenthaler, Grace Hartigan, Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell, and Ethel Schwabacher.