Craft Arts Outdoors

Kathy Goodson’s Dream Silks at NC Arboretum

Kathy Goodson’s Dream Silks at NC Arboretum

Abstract Dried Leaf. Kathy Goodson, artist

Inspired by Nature

By Natasha Anderson

The North Carolina Arboretum presents Dream Silks, on display in the Education Center daily through April 22. The exhibit features the work of WNC-based artist Kathy Goodson, a silk painter who uses a variety of items in her work, including poncho jackets, scarves and framed wall art.

Though Goodson spent many years pursuing other forms of creative expression, including theatre and playwriting, she has been painting silks for 20 years. Her first encounter with the medium involved a child’s scarf-painting kit, which she purchased during a journey of self-exploration upon reading the book The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. Painting with dye turned out to be a creative outlet unlike any Goodson had experienced. She compares the process to working in watercolors, noting two major exceptions that create exciting challenges. “Because I am working with dyes on fiber,” she says, “I can’t control how the fiber will take the dyes or what direction the dyes will move once applied to the fabric.”

Goodson works with fine French and American pigments to showcase the beauty found in WNC. “I draw my inspiration from the natural world, particularly native botanicals, colors of the seasons, our Blue Ridge Mountains and their stunning panoramas,” she says. “For me, the textures of a curled, dry leaf are just as fascinating as a field of bright, blooming wildflowers.”

To create her dramatic and often abstract pieces, Goodson enlarges images, then infuses them with vibrant colors derived from dyes. The process can take a few days or several months, depending on the complexity of the subject. “Once the painting goes through its final stage, which is steam setting, I breathe a little sigh of relief,” she says. “When it is successfully mounted and framed, I breathe a big sigh of relief.”

Goodson’s work can be found at numerous galleries throughout NC. She teaches silk painting classes at various venues, including the North Carolina Arboretum.

The Arboretum, a 434-acre public garden, features rotating art exhibits from established visual artists whose work helps further the organization’s mission to connect people with plants through creative expression. These exhibits can be found year-round on the second floor gallery of the Education Center and periodically on the second floor of the Baker Exhibit Center.

The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville. It is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., April through October, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., November through March. Admission is free. A standard $14 per vehicle parking fee is required for non-members. For more information, visit

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