A solo exhibition by the distinguished Seattle artist best known for his dream-based comics and graphic novels featuring the anthropomorphic cartoon character Frank. Woodring presents a series of ink drawings commissioned by the Museum, created using an oversized fountain pen of his own invention.
At once knowable and entirely strange, the work of artist and illustrator Jim Woodring (American, born 1952) defies categorization, shifting between graphic novel and fine art; reality and hallucinatory dream. His compositions are explorations of metaphysical peculiarities expressed in a visual language drawn from the universal experiences of everyday life. In describing the curiosity that fuels this process, he explains, “One common thread that runs through all my work is an interest in and a search for hidden forces—the invisible world. There is very much a questing, searching, seeking quality to everything I do. Each picture I draw is an attempt to answer one question and ask another one at the same time.”
Woodring is best known for his comics and graphic novels depicting Frank, a foolhardy anthropomorph whose adventures take place in a surreal landscape drawn from vintage American cartoons and the artist’s dreams. The Pig Went Down to the Harbor at Sunrise and Wept, a series newly commissioned by the Frye Art Museum, signifies an unexpected phase in his celebrated career. Created using a comically oversize fountain pen crafted by Woodring himself, these ink drawings demonstrate the ways that new tools can expand an artist’s practice, generating new technical challenges in tandem with unexpected creative rewards.
Like many of Woodring's wordless tableaus, The Pig Went Down to the Harbor at Sunrise and Wept presents a sequence of self-contained frames that conjure spiritual journeys, mythological tales, and meditative acid trips. Evoking bemusement and delight, Woodring’s universe is replete with visions, misperceptions, and neurological misfires, a veritable dreamworld that permeates his art and continues to play out beyond the limits of the page.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website