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THOMAS WOODRUFF: is fighting the good fight. Art will save us all.

Woodruff in his studio, the original barn, next to Aurora, 2022; Autumn, 2021; and Euphrosyne, Aglaia, and Thalia, a work in progress, 2022.
Photo by Guzman

Artist Matthew Weinstein had known of Thomas Woodruff’s work for a long time, but they had never met. After he started seeing images on his Instagram feed of Woodruff’s paintings, depicting emotive dinosaurs awestruck by the cosmic forces of their doom, Weinstein kept hitting Like. He then introduced himself in a DM, saying that he needed to see those dinosaurs in person. According to Weinstein, he is predisposed to like people whose work he enjoys. But this doesn’t always work out. With Tom it did. He went to visit him at his studio upstate, Woodruff came to his in Brooklyn, and they had a lot to talk about. They still do.

MW We both cram a lot of life into apocalyptic imagery; representations of creatures living intensely until the end. Beauty that transcends doom. Which, I think, is the opposite of morbidity. What do you think about the distinction between apocalypticism and morbidity?

TW Spending most of my time in this idyllic setting in the Hudson Valley with my charming husband Fred, whom I have known for over four decades, with me in my sixties and him in his seventies, we have learned pretty well how to weather the storms. They blow in and leave debris, but we wait for the rainbows, I guess. There is a wisdom that comes when one recognizes one’s aging or one's placement on the gauge of the cosmic lifecycle. I go for walks in the two cemeteries near my house. They are filled with flowers, swallows and bunnies. I lived through the AIDS epidemic in my early adulthood, and it made me realize that morbidity and apocalypse can be swirled together like a horrific soft-swirl cone. But the survivor in me prefers to separate the light from the dark whenever I can.

MW And beauty, of course, helps.

TW Beauty has always been the balm to heal the wounds that life inflicts. It’s one of the noblest things that art can strive for.

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