Betty Goodwin was born in Montréal, Québec in 1923. She was largely self taught, beginning her painting in the late 1940's. During the 1950-1960's her subject matter consisted of still-lifes and scenes Montréal's Jewish east side.
She explored many mediums such as drawing, sculpture and printmaking. Her works seek to portray the fragility of life in a complex, uncertain world. Her art has evolved in series, and shows influence of Joseph Beuys and Bruce Nauman, artists she admired. Goodwin''s work is very personal, social and political.
In 1968, she enrolled in a printmaking course with Yves Gaucher at Sir George Williams now Concordia University. Her prints were inspired by found objects, and she gained international attention.
From 1972 to 1974, Goodwin worked on the Tarpaulin series of wall hangings. She reworked the surfaces of these found coverings layered them with gesso and paint, patched, stitched, and marked them then shaped them into collages and sculptures.
Beginning in 1982 over a period of six years, Goodwin worked with graphite, charcoal and oil pastels on a support of vellum or translucent Mylar creating large scale works entitled Swimmers.
In 1977, Goodwin began her exploration of the theme of passage. She created installation works that encompassed reconstructing rooms and passageways with various materials.
From 1988-89, Goodwin focused on a new series of wall assemblages, made of iron-filings and other metal objects, held together by a magnet on a steel plate.
From 1990-1995, Goodwin depicted photographic enlargements of skeletal bones, beds, baths and nerves of the body.
Betty Goodwin was honoured with several awards such as, membership in The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Prix Paul-Émile Borduas in 1986, the Gershon Iskowitz Prize in 1995, Harold Town Prize in 1998, The Governor General''s Award, and Order of Canada in 2003.
Goodwin died in Montréal, Québec in 2008.