By Brittany Goldman
Silence, then a warm, yet assertive voice breathes through the telephone receiver. Like a strong wind, you feel the passion of her words take hold of you, and it becomes apparent, she’s a force to be reckoned with.
At 91-years of age, Lorrie Goulet speaks with remarkable clarity and precision, almost as if time has no barrier on her. With 500 sculptures under her belt and many paintings, this is just the tip of the iceberg for an artist who expresses herself through countless mediums. A craftsman of many tools, her other works include her poetry, published books, and her many paintings. Her sculptures mirror her personality; stubborn, strong and resilient. Unfaltering like the many stones she chiseled into by hand. All the qualities that better braced for the criticism she would endure as a woman pursuing a career in a male dominated field.
“When I was very young, I guess I was about, 10 or 11, I announced to everybody that I would be a sculptor when I grew up, because I didn’t like making pots. I mean I’m nothing against ceramics. I wanted to make people, so I said, I’m going to be a sculptor and they said, little girls don’t do sculptors. That was the first cut. You know I said to myself, I don’t know about other little girls, but this little girl going to do sculpture, and I grew up and became a sculptor”, Goulet said.
It was this strong drive and perseverance that set forth a trajectory that fully submersed her into a life dedicated to creating a legacy of her work.
At 7-years old, she attended The Inward Pottery Studio where she worked under one of her mentors, Mrs Voyeres. After mastering the art of ceramics, Lorrie fled to California to briefly resume a life of normalcy. However, she grew bored of the art classes offered at her public school.
With an insatiable appetite to be challenged, she moved across state to attend Black Mountain College.
A self-proclaimed feminist, Goulet’s sculptures heavily focus on the female form, nature, and men. Also an avid painter whose work focuses on abstract and objectivism, she still produces a painting each week. Yet, she remains adamant that nothing compares to her love of sculpture.
“It’s not the same as sculpting, but it’s very good. Nothing could equal Sculpture in my life. I was dedicated to it. Dedicated, as much as you can dedicate to anything,” said Goulet.
Independent Scholar and Founder of the Black Mountain College Project, Mary Emma Harris, smiles as she sits neatly piled on top of her light blue sofa. A long-time friend, she gives an insightful account of Goulet’s time spent perfecting her technique.
In the summer of 1944, a sculptor by the name of Jose De Creeft, taught at the college, and later played an instrumental role in both Lorrie’s personal and professional life. At 18-years old, Goulet fell in love with her mentor. They married despite their staggering 40 year age difference.
Leaning back on the Sofa, Harris grows quiet for a brief moment. She looks down as she interlaces her fingers. looking up, a renewed light enters her eyes.
“She’s very warm, but she’s nobody’s fool. She’s a very strong person who has a real sense of herself as a professional and she understood, if you’re an artist, people don’t come knocking on your door. You have to get yourself out there, you have to push yourself, in order to let people know you exist. And Lorrie has definitely handled her life very well as a professional. She has a daughter, so she has also been a mother and a homemaker. She’s a beautiful person,”said Harris.
Laughing, Harris shares a memory illustrating how Goulet’s consistency of her professionalism has not waned throughout the years.
“You know, now, at this point of my life I rarely wear heels, maybe that high” she raises her fingers slightly apart to illustrate a small gap.
“ You would go to her openings when she was well into her 70s and 80s and she would have on heels that are like five inches high, just dressed to the tee, beautiful makeup, you know, a great lady, she had a real sense of herself as a woman,” said Harris.
Since 1966, Goulet resides in the same building where she often confines herself to her basement, hidden away from the world, as she continues to work.
A few years ago, Goulet suffered from a stroke which created many difficulties regarding her work. Its aftermath robbed her of the ability to read and write yet, she still remarkably managed to write and publish three books years later, all on her own.
After dedicating 70 years to her artwork, Goulet lets out a heavy sigh and a chuckle over the phone
“I feel like I’ve had a very good career. And feel like I haven’t wasted a day.”