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Jessica Goodyear, Artist Who Grew up in Darien, Passes Away

Jessica Goodyear, an artist who grew up in Darien, passed away on Jan. 20.

Jessica Goodyear (this photo previously was published by the New Haven Register)
Jessica Goodyear (this photo previously was published by the New Haven Register)

Jessica Goodyear died in Branford on Jan. 20, 2014 after a brief illness.  The daughter of Dr. Stephen Goodyear and Mary Robins Goodyear, she was born in Carmel, California and moved shortly thereafter to Englewood for two years and then spent the rest of her childhood in Darien. 

She graduated from Milton Academy, after which she studied at the American College in Paris.  She received her B.A. in Architecture from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1980.  Also in 1980, she attended the Wright Ingraham Institute in Colorado Springs, CO.  She lived in Branford and New York City.

Jessica’s career centered on the arts. She was part of the The Ocarina Orchestra which was filmed at the Whitney Museum of Art, New York and the Museum of Modern Art, New York and broadcast on WNEW News.  Her main focus was fine arts, for which she won many awards, including the Cine Golden Eagle and Peabody Award among others. 

Much of her artistic output centered on drawings, including two series of detailed realistic drawings documenting important landmark buildings in Lower Manhattan (where she maintained a studio for 22 years), which were shown in a solo exhibit at India House. 

In a series of drawings, she also documented archeological sites visited during the course of her research for her manuscript, The Serpent that Shakes the Earth. Jessica’s art was often characterized by intellectually complex long-term projects. 

One of these projects conceptualized vast geographic expanses such as the Earth and the United States, using folk media such as embroidery in combination with advanced maps.  One of the underlying themes of her work is the fusion of art and science. 

At her death, she was working on an installation entitled "Illustrious Ancestors" that traced her ancestry back to the founder and first president of the MOMA, major American inventors, founders of the American colonies, the Mayflower, and to her English and Dutch forebearers going back 500 years. 

Her art was included in publications, including Site Matters: the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council's World Trade Center Artists Residency, 1997-2001, and Visioning Life Systems: Artists' Work from their Permacultural Source.  This year, her work was exhibited at the John Slade Ely House in New Haven.

Goodyear was a pioneer in the emerging field of cultural geology.  She began using the phrase "cultural geology" in the early 1980s to describe a new holistic anthropologic approach to the relationship between culture and tectonics. 

She lectured and wrote extensively on the subject, as well as produced a series of drawings of archaeological sites and other artworks including a short video related to her work.

Jessica also had a life-long interest in architecture, demonstrated in films such as "Three Generations of Avant Garde Japanese Architects" (PBS 1988), "Great Houses of the Hudson River," (1987) and "Building Green" (National Audubon 1993), which she respectively edited and associate-produced.

She edited for museums such as the Ford Museum of Dearborn, Michigan (1987) and the Storm King Art Center, in Storm King, New York ("Three Sculptors" 1990), as well as, educational programs such as "Behind the Scenes" (art education for children, PBS 1992) and "Geography in American History," a series for American high school students (1991). 

She delved into the topic of people undergoing stressful situations in "The Nature of Stress" (PBS 1989), "Rights of Passage," (UNICEF 1994), "Faces of Hate" (Southern Poverty Law Center 1993), and "The Iran Hostage Crisis" (CBS cable 1998).  She was also an instructor at the School of Visual Arts in New York City.

Jessica leaves behind her sister, Abigail and brother, Talbot, two nieces and four nephews.  Her brother, Zachary, of Washington, CT and Wallingford, CT,  predeceased her in November.  A celebration of her life is being planned for the spring.  Memorial donations may be made to the American Anthropological Association. 

Editor's note: This obituary, without the links and in slightly different form, originally was posted on Branford Patch.

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