What do J. Frank Dobie, Barbara Jordan, Katherine Anne Porter, and Stephen F. Austin have in common, besides that they are all revered Texans?
Each has been immortalized through the exquisite bronze sculptures of Glenna Goodacre. With more than 500 pieces across the Unites States, the diverse oeuvre of this Lubbock native captures moments of wild joy, as in her famous tableau Puddle Jumpers, but it also tells stories of great historic upheavals, as with her Vietnam Women’s Memorial on the National Mall in Washington and the Irish Memorial, the latter an intricate, thirty-foot masterpiece at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia.
With her deep artist’s sensibility, she transforms her raw materials into lasting expressions of timeless human vitality; this is no where more evident than in Philosopher’s Rock, her much-loved sculpture of Austin polymaths J. Frank Dobie, Roy Bedichek, and Walter Prescott Webb engaged in lively discussion at the entrance of Barton Springs pool. She is also renowned for having designed the image of Sacagawea on the dollar coin, first released in 2000.
“I think a lot about the emotional impact of my work,” says Goodacre. ”For a public sculpture, I want to tell the story, touch people, and then in reverse, I want them to touch the sculpture. I love getting fan mail and photos of people interacting with my pieces across the country.”
Although Goodacre now resides in New Mexico, her childhood in Texas helped shape her into the artist she is. “When I was a kid and dreaming of being an artist, Lubbock was the most supportive and nurturing place anyone could want to be. My dad, Homer Maxey, took me to Europe, and people bought my early work (which was probably pretty terrible) and encouraged me…Texas has always been an art state, and it flows through me like the Pecos River.”
And Goodacre, through her sculptures that people will admire and touch for centuries to come, has forever left her mark on Texas.