A contemporary exponent of a longstanding Navajo pottery tradition, Goodman has produced simple vessels and utilitarian objects. When the demand for functional works decreased in the 1980s she turned to animal figures. Her stylized bears are notable for their small heads and legs and substantial torsos, as well as surface textures that mimic a bear’s thick fur. Goodman’s choice of the bear reflects the important role this animal has played in the lives of the Navajo and other Native American communities. A key source of food and of materials for clothing, shelter, and ceremonial objects, they are also important as emblems of power and plenitude.
Lynda Hartigan Contemporary Folk Art: Treasures from the Smithsonian American Art Museum (exhibition text, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 1999)
When Louise Goodman realized that the demand for functional pottery was falling, she began making decorative rope pots, wedding vases, and animals. She works in a “closet-sized studio” in her house in Cow Springs, Arizona, at the end of a trail leading from an abandoned trading post. All seven of Goodman’s children helped her with her pottery while they were growing up and one of her daughters, Virginia Shortman, is now a potter (Chuck and Jan Rosenak, The People Speak: Navajo Folk Art, 1994).