Subjects-Objects: Artist Neil Goodman reflects on The Block’s site-specific sculpture [Video]

“As years become decades, we remember both the people and experiences that create the texture of our lives. Our stories become linked with others, and the closer our bonds the more we share. Yet we might wonder if we can share similar experiences with a work of art, as they in their own way, accompany us throughout our lives.” – Neil Goodman

Neil Goodman during 2000 installation of Subjects-Objejects

Throughout the summer of 2022, The Block Museum oversaw the cleaning of the sculpture Subjects-Objects, the site-specific work installed on the museum’s stairway by artist Neil Goodman, in the year 2000. The sculpture, comprising 72 bronze forms, was installed at the time of The Block’s second-story expansion and has become a recognizable symbol of the museum. The intensive 2022 cleaning process took a number of weeks and required the installation of a custom scaffold in the museum’s stairwell. Over the summer, the museum also welcomed Neil Goodman back to the museum in person to oversee the process, and to reflect on his work more than two decades after its creation.

We discussed Goodman’s inspiration for the sculpture, how it figured into the development of his wider body of work, and what it means to create a work that museum patrons and staff would live with, spending time and returning to over and over again.

People get to see the piece over a period time and then when they see it, their first thought might not be the last thought. Most objects that you see at a museum, you see it once and then the exhibition changes. And so for somebody who goes to a museum over a period, goes to the same museum for a number of years, you know, your ideas might change. And, as you, yourself change, your interpretation of the piece changes, and so you have that opportunity to have a much longer dialogue with an object than you normally would’ve had. It’s curious, you know, it’s unique in the sense of how we live with objects.

Neil Goodman on Subjects-Objects installed at The Block Museum of Art

About Neil Goodman

Born in Hammond Indiana 1953, Neil Goodman received his BA (1976) at Indiana University. Bloomington and his MFA at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia in 1979.  Shortly thereafter, Goodman was offered a faculty position at Indiana University Northwest where he became one of the founding members of the Fine Arts department.  Goodman retired from teaching in 2017 as Professor Emeritus of Fine Arts.  After forty years, Goodman left Chicago to live and work in the small central coast town of Los Alamos California.

Goodman has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally and has had numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the country.  Goodman’s sculpture was included in the seminal 1995 Museum of Contemporary Art’s opening exhibition “History of Chicago Art, 1945-1995.”  His work has been written about and reviewed in numerous catalogs and periodicals, including “Art Forum”, “Art in America,” “Art News,” and “Sculpture” magazine.  In addition to many private collections, Goodman’s sculpture has been commissioned and collected by museumscorporations, universities, convention centers, sculpture parks.  

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