Johanna Goodman

JOHANNA GOODMAN’s Catalogue of Imaginary Beings 

with a micro-interview by Elaine Sexton 


ELAINE SEXTON:  There’s something of the monumental, Mount Rushmore-like, in these collaged portraits, particularly the women in politics. Only with tiny heads and tiny feet, the narrative contained in massive bodies. In other pieces the “brain” matter is exaggerated.  Can you talk a bit about the idea of greatness in these collages, maybe sharing something of your process in the works selected here?

JOHANNA GOODMAN: I’ve been an artist and illustrator for many years, most of those years I painted and drew likenesses of celebrities and politicians for reproduction in magazines and newspapers. I lived in the space of portraits. I spent countless hours intimately studying the lines and slopes of a face and gazing into the eyes of a subject, until I felt a human connection.


Initially when I started working with collage it was as an antidote to my painting practice. I decided there was another way to process someone, shifting the focus from the face and stepping-back to see the entirety of a person. To capture an essence of a person or even 



using the person to communicate a greater idea. To convey a larger concept, using the figure as the canvas for that. The subject I depict shares the stage with, or in most cases, is upstaged by all of the elements I’m collaging. Now the portrait is almost incidental and the world of what is happening in and around their body and the background is the focal point. And that 



world can encompass anything at all – fashion, technology, politics, the environment, the human condition. I’ve given this collage series the title The Catalogue of Imaginary Beings.  It is my soapbox, my visual editorial column. It is my template for anything I need to say. 


“The Catalogue of Imaginary Beings, Plate No. 165 “Elizabeth Warren”


The Beings are idols and talismans of my own invention.

I love making collages about women. There are images of women everywhere you look but so few of them are interesting to me. They’re so often about beauty or sex appeal and selling a product. I’m hungry for images of women that are monumental, complicated, imposing, 



unusual and solid. A different kind of beauty. They are my aspirations. When I look at one of the women in my collages I get the feeling I did as a child looking up at my mother. I’m interested in making them larger-than-life, enigmatic, radiating power, conviction and joy. Even their vulnerability is a strength.



New York-based Artist, Johanna Goodman studied at Boston University’s School of Fine Art (Boston) and Parsons School of Design (NYC) where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration in 1992. She has been a freelance Illustrator ever since. Her work has garnered awards from The Society of Publication Design, American Illustration, and Communication Arts. Her work was shown in lower Manhattan at the David Weeks Studio in an extended exhibit early this year.   www.