Glenna Goodacre’s Girls

(Last Updated On May 24, 2022)

Glenna Maxey Goodacre (born in 1939) is most famous for her design of the Sacagawea dollar coin and the Vietnam War Women’s Memorial. Goodacre was born in Texas and moved to New Mexico in 1983. Her sculpture is notable for its celebration of the American West, American Indians, and patriotism. Goodacre retired from sculpting in 2016 and died in 2020. She created many sculptures of children, especially girls. Thirteen of her works featuring girls are included in this post.

Glenna Goodacre – The Runner in Kettering Ohio (1997).jpg

The Runner is on public display in at least three places: Lincoln Park in Kettering, Ohio, Texas Tech University in Goodacre’s native city of Lubbock, Texas, and the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. The statue is life-size.

Glenna Goodacre – The Runner in Lubbock Texas (1997)

Goodacre’s most famous Indian sculpture is the Sacagawea dollar that went into circulation in the year 2000. Although it has two youthful portraits, Sacagawea was modeled by a college student, and the infant represents a boy. The dollar would not be on topic for Pigtails, but several other Goodacre Indian sculptures are. The two shown below are Little Sister and 3rd Generation. The title for 3rd Generation is enigmatic; I have not been able to discover what it means.

Glenna Goodacre – Little Sister (1978)

Glenna Goodacre – 3rd Generation (1995)

Pledge Allegiance is one of the artist’s most popular works. It is on public display in at least ten cities in the United States. Children depicted in the statue group include both girls and boys.

Glenna Goodacre – Pledge Allegiance in Milwaukee Wisconsin (1991)

Glenna Goodacre – Pledge Allegiance in Holland Michigan (1991)

Below are two more groupings that contain both girls and boys. The first is titled Facts of Life. For those Pigtails readers whose native language is not English, I should explain that in the USA, the phrase “facts of life” is a euphemism for information about sex. This assemblage has one boy with crossed arms and crossed legs. On each side of the boy is a girl in a more open posture. The children are discussing something, and the title implies they may be talking about their newly developing sexuality. Nevertheless, there is nothing overtly sexual about this work; the children appear to be innocent friends.

Glenna Goodacre – Facts of Life (1997)

It is interesting to consider how the Facts of Life would be viewed if the sexes were reversed. What if the child with the crossed limbs was a girl surrounded by two boys in a sculpture titled Facts of Life? It might appear that the boys were behaving aggressively toward the girl. Girls, however, are traditionally seen as nonaggressive, and Goodacre tends to use traditional sex roles in her art. This is especially apparent in what is to me Goodacre’s most powerful and moving work; the Vietnam War Women’s Memorial. The women are shown as heroic for healing wounds, rather than for inflicting them.

Glenna Goodacre – Tug Of War (1987)

Traditional sex attributes figure in the next work, Tug of War. Boys are considered to be physically stronger than girls. Therefore, to make the contest fair, there are three girls against two boys. Goodacre’s art is uplifting in its portrayal of the good in people. Her children always play fair.

Glenna Goodacre – Mother and Daughter (1998)

Children are good and parents are loving, as shown in the next statue group titled Mother and Daughter.

Glenna Goodacre – Sweet Sue (1985)

The next three sculptures are full length statues of girls, without adults or boys. Goodacre was very good at portraying all ages and sexes, but her girls are especially charming.

Glenna Goodacre – Ballerinas (date unknown)

Glenna Goodacre – Star (date unknown)

She sculpted facial portraits as well as full figures. The next two are portraits of girls I think are particularly expressive.

Glenna Goodacre – Amelia (date unknown)

Glenna Goodacre – Uhoh (date unknown)

Goodacre specialized in the clothed figure, but she also did a few nudes. In researching this article, all of the Goodacre nudes I found were female, and all but one were adult women. The one exception is April, which is shown below.

Glenna Goodacre – April in Kansas City Missouri (1973)

Glenna Goodacre – April (1973)

5 thoughts on “Glenna Goodacre’s Girls

  1. The following comment about the Pledge of Allegiance was sent by email:

    “I live in Holland, Michigan, where we are very lucky to have one of these wonderful statues. Having enjoyed the statue for many years, I became aware that one little girl has her fingers crossed behind her back. I’m extremely curious – any idea why Goodacre made this artistic choice???”

    • Thank you for the observation. I don’t know why Goodacre made the crossed fingers, but I also am curious. When I was a child, crossed fingers behind the back meant that the child intended to renege on a pledge. This would seem contrary to the character of this work, and of Goodacre’s sculpture in general. Perhaps one of our readers can offer some insight.

      • Could it have been intended as an implied political commentary? It could mean that that girl has parents who have strong opinions about what they consider to be a lack of “liberty and justice for all”.
        (For people here who are not Americans: The phrase in quotes is the final words of the Pledge of Allegiance.)

        • Thanks for the comment. I had a similar idea, that since the sculptor was born in Texas, the girl may have had a negative opinion about the word “indivisible” in the pledge.

  2. Hmm. My local Senior citizen activities center has a pair of sculptures on a bench not unlike the “Mother and Daughter” set, except depicting an elderly man and a young girl, possibly his granddaughter. I’ll have to check to see who the artist was.

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