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‘Freak Parade’ at Haggerty Museum of Art

Art Preview

Jan. 19, 2010
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Much like a touring carnival of yesteryear, Thomas Woodruff’s “Freak Parade” pulls into Marquette University’s Haggerty Museum of Art next week, where it will delight, challenge and satisfy the curious until it pulls up the tent-stakes on April 18.

Railing against the uniform blandness of American society, Woodruff, chair of the illustration and cartooning department at New York’s School of Visual Arts, has assembled a disquieting collection of pieces reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s novel Something Wicked This Way Comes, or the feel of Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 1995 film, The City of Lost Children.

Bemoaning contemporary culture as “scarier than the fiercest scaly beast in the most shadowy of woods,” Woodruff touts his exhibit as “the faade of a carnie’s tent, or a map of the heart… my sprawling celebration of all things aberrant. It’s a protest march against those who dream of breeding one big bland homogenous village, drained of color, variety, and eccentric spectacle.”

The mixed-media-on-paper pieces, depicting unusual characters such as Anatomy Boy and Poor Mr. P, each tell a story, many accompanied by a poem written by the artist. Woodruff, a former tattoo artist and veritable rock star of the alternative arts world, has also illustrated numerous periodicals and book jackets for such notable authors as Robertson Davies, Ann Tyler and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The artist will be on hand for a 6 p.m. opening-night gallery walk-through and book signing on Jan. 27.

The Haggerty Museum of Art is located on the campus of Marquette University, at 13th and Clybourn streets.


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