Her bronze sculptures catch time by the
hand, creating a lifelike warmth from cold
metal. They start out a lump of clay and her
“Bronze is a great medium, very
immediate but very forgiving,” she says.
“Fingerprints from the clay are preserved in
bronze, plus the texture.”
Dubbed “America’s Sculptor,” Goodacre’s
fingers are behind such well-known works
as the Vietnam Women’s Memorial in
Washington, D.C., and the Sacagawea
dollar coin, and gigantic pieces like the Irish
Memorial in Philadelphia.
“Big pieces are a lot of fun but a lot of
work; hundreds, sometimes thousands of
pounds of clay to move around. Then to see
the pieces outdoors with lots of people around
them is very rewarding,” she says. “If I want to
realize an idea quickly, I make little pieces, and
then I may or may not enlarge them.”
One smaller piece — actually a scale model
of a life-size figure — recently found a home
at Phi Kappa Phi headquarters. The C.E.O. is
a striding woman based on Glenna Goodacre’s
daughter, model Jill Goodacre, and part of a
larger piece called Sidewalk Society.
Phi Kappa Phi’s headquarters board room has
a wall of bookshelves dedicated to the Society’s
authors, and Executive Director Dr. Mary
Todd thought a sculpture from Goodacre,
a life member initiated into the Society
at Texas Tech University, would be an
“When the opportunity to acquire
The C.E.O. presented itself, we eagerly
followed through, and are thrilled to now
have an original Goodacre grace our offices,”
Goodacre says life-size public art like
Sidewalk Society gives people the chance to
“think about them at ground level” and really
interact with the statues. “They are pieces of
everyday people sculpted in a human scale so
participants can identify easily with them,”
she writes in a 2009 book about her work.
Her favorite piece is probably her most
famous, the Vietnam Women’s Memorial
on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.,
installed in 1993.
“It meant so much to those women and
they were very involved in the creation of it,”
She is also known for her Western
pieces, including a larger-than-life statue
of President Ronald Reagan called After
the Ride, and a series of figures of Native
American life in the West, including the now
iconic image of Sacagawea with her baby,
Goodacre says designing the coin was
tedious, requiring design after design to
fit the parameters of a small, flat surface.
Designs from the coin were featured in a
2015 exhibit of the Smithsonian National
Numismatic Collection at the American
History Museum in Washington, D.C.
She’s churned out more than 600 works,
mostly in bronze, and mostly of human
forms. And, in recent years, she’s dealt with
a health scare, a catastrophic brain injury in
2007 that left her unconscious for 10 days.
“Everything changes so quickly,” she says.
“The best medicine is work. Keep working.”
GLENNA GOODACRE’S FINGERPRINTS
ARE ALL OVER HER WORK
Photo by Matt Suhre — Sculptor Glenna Goodacre with the
full-sized version of The C.E.O.
Photo provided by Glenna Goodacre —
The design of the Sacagawea dollar coin.
Photo by Matt Suhre — The maquette of The C. E. O. by Glenna
Goodacre was recently acquired for Phi Kappa Phi headquarters.
Photo provided by Glenna Goodacre — The Vietnam Women’s
Memorial is one of sculptor Glenna Goodacre’s favorite works. It’s
located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.