Guy Woodard: In His Own Words

Guy Woodard was born in New York City on November 4, 1951. He describes himself as a sickly child who spent many hours indoors drawing. Woodard attended the High School for Art and Design, where he often put his art…

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Guy Woodard was born in New York City on November 4, 1951. He describes himself as a sickly child who spent many hours indoors drawing. Woodard attended the High School for Art and Design, where he often put his art to use forging parents’ signatures for his classmates. He graduated in 1969 and briefly found work as an artist in an advertising agency and then as an accountant. Woodard says he combined the two professions and launched a twenty-year criminal career as a counterfeiter. He served three terms in prison.

“I am an outstanding illustrator who executes museum-quality works of art with just a ballpoint pen. I came to this medium out of “necessity,” at least in my mind. I was in prison that didn’t permit oil paints or anything ‘toxic’. I had been painting in my rare leisure time for many years, wanting to be an artist, but never seemed to have enough time to paint in earnest and explore my capabilities. I needed a sponsor. It seemed to me that my incarceration presented me with an unwitting benefactor–the Bureau of Prisons. I taught myself to paint with a Bic pen. At first, it was out of rebellion, but then I began to like the results. As a former counterfeiter, the pen allowed me to work in extreme detail, artistry at which I was already practiced and proficient.

I have two passions: drawing and teaching. I am an artist who has recently gained attention. I had two encouraging exhibitions, and my work is beginning to sell. I just finished serving three years for possession of forgery devices. I’ve been free since July 2015. While continuing to pursue my art career, I began teaching art to a growing group of formerly incarcerated men and women at the Fortune Society facility in Long Island City.”

Woodard continued to exhibit his work in galleries around New York City. His most recent was Icons, Iconoclasts, and Outsiders at Howl! Arts Gallery, which opened on September 19, 2021. Woodard loved teaching his students at the Fortune Society. Recently, he proudly exhibited their work alongside his own at MoMA PS1’s Homeroom exhibition space in September and October of 2021 in partnership with the Fortune Society. Sadly, Woodard died in November of 2021.

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