Superhero Dreams

When Jump Suits: An Outis Space Venture opens tonight at PlatteForum, the inner superheroic fantasies of a group of Colfax Community Network kids, ages five through twelve, will be revealed. The students, who’ve worked for six weeks with Teddy O’Connor (an artist who embraces both comic-book and sculptural forms), will present a collaborative comic book as well as random space objects and self-designed superhero gear they’ve made — all displayed around O’Connor’s giant orange found-object pyramid, a focal piece of the exhibit.

“Outis” is a reference to the pseudonym, meaning “nobody,” that Odysseus uses to double-cross Cyclops in The Odyssey; it’s a sideways method of describing a place that’s neither here nor there. “It’s a place that’s not quite outer space and not quite Earth, but somewhere in between, where imagination and the physical realization of your imagination combine in making artwork,” O’Connor explains. And in creating their comic book, the kids have created a concrete rendering of that idea. “In it, they teach me, Teddy, how to become one of them,” he continues. “They help me achieve my full potential of imagination.”

“The kids have all fallen in love with Teddy — they call him Teddy Bear,” says PlatteForum director Judy Anderson, even if, in truth, “he’s tall and lanky and not very fuzzy.” But, she adds, his personality is quite cuddly — and O’Connor is also in tune with the psyches of little kids, the age group he requested as a prerequisite to his residency at PlatteForum. “That was the height of my own love for super-heroes, and it’s an age when transformation is definitely an important part of life,” he says. “I was fascinated at that age, specifically with characters that could morph, like the X-Men.” Coming into the project — which included hands-on immersion and collaborative storytelling — with that experience got heroic results: “They’ve come up with an incredible team of characters, both good and evil,” O’Connor notes.

See Jump Suits at PlatteForum, 1610 Little Raven Street, during a reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m. tonight; the show continues through January 7 (although the gallery will be closed December 24 through January 2). For more info, go to or call 303-893-0791. See more on the Show and Tell blog at
Dec. 16-Jan. 7, 2010

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Susan Froyd started writing for Westword as the "Thrills" editor in 1992 and never quite left the fold. These days she still freelances for the paper in addition to walking her dogs, enjoying cheap ethnic food and reading voraciously. Sometimes she writes poetry.
Contact: Susan Froyd