On the occasion of his retirement from teaching at the University of Montana in 2000, James Todd’s mother paid him a visit bearing a collection of drawings he had made between the ages 5 and 8. He had not seen the drawings in over 50 years. The fluid lines of his pencil drawings of American GI’s returning from war in Europe, knights in armor, or a visit to the dentist seem to greet the artist – now in his seventies – across the years. In this exhibition and the accompanying catalog, Todd has reinterpreted his childhood drawings through woodcut printing, the medium for which he is perhaps best known today.
By his own description, James Todd decided long ago not to confine his creative work to any particular approach or aesthetic philosophy. By any measure, Looney Toones is the triumphant result of that decision, exemplifying Todd’s own definition of the Modern artist, "whose expression could grow and change along with the course of the artist’s life experiences and interests."
Each drawing accompanies a contemporary print that, while based closely on the original forms, embodies the intervening decades by embellishing upon, even reimagining altogether the child’s experience. Todd has given expression to the essentially modern human experience of encountering one’s own past, across decades, through both memory and creativity.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website