Jim Woodring’s hallucinatory visual narratives won him cult fame decades ago. His wordless surreal adventures, starring a generic anthropoid named Frank, are conduits into a strange and terrifying world, one difficult to decipher. “It was in high school that I found out that surrealism existed, and it swept me right off the deck,” Woodring recalls. “I was a very suppressed, or repressed, person, and I saw the massive dada and surrealism show at the L.A. County Art Museum. The fact that adults gave themselves over to this kind of expression was so freeing.”
He freed himself completely when he left college and struck out on his own after a hallucination barged into an art history class he was attending. Instead of fearing these “apparitions,” as he terms them, Woodring began to render them artistically. Today his work is an idiosyncratic mix of horror and humor, of fine-art technique and content bubbling up from the unconscious. He also scripts graphic novels and crafts toys based on his bizarre imaginings, and is in the process of completing a 340-page novel. “Mystery is the mainspring, for me,” he says. “I’ve found the people that like my work like that. If it’s a puzzle for you, remember, it’s one for me, too!”
He'll offer clues to this puzzle and much more during Making Light, a free lecture at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design at 7 p.m. March 23; he'll stick around for a Q&A lunch and drawing session tomorrow. RMCAD is located at 1600 Pierce Street in Lakewood, and seating is limited; go to rmcad.edu/event/jim-woodring-making-light for more information and to make a reservation.
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