We had the good fortune of connecting with Courtney Nicole Googe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Courtney Nicole, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
The year 2020 has definitely challenged the Work-Life / Studio balance! You never know what tomorrow is going to bring and nothing is for certain. Life will certainly have its fair share of unexpected moments. The work-life balance and the work-studio-life balance will change depending on individual situations. Some adaptability is required, but also a lot of self-discipline and self-motivation to keep up the habit and routine of working even when it’s difficult. I’m a teacher as well as an artist, so when the pandemic first hit, all my classes went virtual. My studio time decreased dramatically as I needed to take more time to prepare all my classes and students to move to virtual learning. Even when I did find the time, the increased anxiety made it more difficult to work with more tedious materials or intricate processes. Instead I found the best way to burn through a lot of that nervous energy was with increased use of my body. In response to the pandemic, I developed a gas mask-based photography project that became the focus of my studio work during the springtime months. Over the summer, I explored dance and fitness competitions to help work through some of that energy. And we’ve adjusted to this “new normal” as autumn arrived; I am back in the studio, drawing and printing with new ideas. It’s good to have a variety of interests or pursuits; I usually recommend at least three! Something intellectual, something physical, and something creative. For example, for me, it is printmaking, pole fitness, and baking; for my oldest daughter, it is screenwriting, boxing, and sculpting. I even encourage my children to find their own balance of art and life.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My studio practice is autobiographical in nature- the way I choose to live my life will ultimately be my greatest work of art. I seek new experiences that challenge me mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Traveling far from home and exploring new ways to move my body are some ways I challenge myself. So far, I have spent a month in North India in 2011, developed a 5-day performance piece involving a trip to Roswell, New Mexico in 2017, and participated in an artist residency in Crete, Greece in July 2018 (in 2019 I was invited to return as an instructor). I have balanced on a roof under a humid summer moon, braced myself in a decaying doorway, tiptoed along the edge of a cliff, hung upside down by my hands over crashing waves, danced in the middle of the desert at dawn, and done yoga in the street while wearing an old gas mask. I process these events through the creation of imagery that pairs the more naturalistic figure with something abstract- like a pattern, setting, or costume. The process of combining traditional relief printmaking techniques with performance, photography, drawing, or digital applications further allows me to consider that which is objective and recognizable with something more psychological. Just as we exist within the specific and layered structures of time and space, my figure is intentionally placed within the layered structure of the image. By creating and working with multiples, I can then incorporate a variety of materials to create 2-dimensional, 3-dimensional, and the occasional 4-dimensional piece within a series. My primary body of work has been distinctly influenced by return trips to Crete and the ancient and contemporary culture of Greece. Currently, I am using pattern as a way to bring order to the chaotic notion of time- by viewing time as non-linear, almost kaleidoscopic, multi-faceted, and essentially broken into overlapping spaces. Reflection on past moments occur simultaneously with present challenges and future desires or fears. In this manner, my own body can be understood as a concrete form which exists within the notional structure of time. I become a representation of the eternal goddess. A second, light-hearted body of work comes from a project I designed with my two daughters. The “Three-Headed Sugar Monster” project uses drawing and printmaking as a way to catalog some of our favorite treats offered at locally owned businesses. Inspired by both the food-focused Pop Art of the past and contemporary “Foodie” culture, I use this everyday subject as a way to introduce ideas of art, drawing, and appreciation to the next generation.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is exactly what my Three-Headed Sugar Monster project is all about! Back in 2019, I designed a year long project with my two daughters. We would travel to our favorite locally owned businesses in DFW and order a sweet treat. We would then take the time to observe and draw the snack before we dug in. I took the drawings back home and translated them into reduction relief prints. We did this every month during 2019, and we ended up with 36 little prints. Every month was a different location! And I recommend a visit to any of these on the list! January: Emporium Pies February: MELT March: Chelles Macarons April: Val’s Cheesecakes May: Fattoush Mediterranean Kitchen June: Press Waffle Co. July: Picole Pops August: StirCrazy Baked Goods September: Oddfellows October: Dude, Sweet Chocolate November: Urban Sugar (Sadly closed during the pandemic) December: Whisk Crepes These prints were shown in a small exhibition at the University of Dallas this past September. Since the show has gone up, I have had more business suggestions and I have discovered some great local black-owned businesses I want to support as well. Currently we are doing an Addendum- we have ordered from new favorite places and have been drawing. So far I also recommend Dough Boy Donuts and Loft22 Cakes!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many. The owners of the businesses that became a part of the Three-Headed Sugar Monster project have been so supportive of myself and my daughters, particularly through social media. Artist friends that have kept in touch during this time, from around the world- we have found ways to encourage and motivate each other, to share work and ideas and keep conversations going. Fellow teachers from the schools where I work and fellow instructors from Skypole Fitness- we have all found ways to bond and continue to offer motivation and understanding during the pandemic. Same with the students!! And of course my family. We haven’t completely driven each other crazy yet, and we’ve been able to have some great discussions about art, about history, about society, and about loving people.
Feature photo – photographer Gretchen Googe Teaching in Crete photo – photographer Kate Stone Rest of the photos- myself