LSSU professor puts 50 years of doodles on display

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You can, of course, find a lot of art forms in museums, abstract paintings, portraits, sculptures, photographs.

And now in Sault Ste. Marie, you can enjoy an exhibit of doodles. 

Lines and curly cues, swirls and volutes, they're all there in the art gallery at Lake Superior State University. And they're all the work of one man, who's been doodling for more than half a century.

James Moody is well known on the campus of LSSU.

He's been teaching humanities, history and geography here for 41 years. And for even longer than that, he's been doodling.

"I have no idea why." Moody said.

He said it started in grade school

"I probably wasted quite a bit of time making small designs" He said.

About 50-years ago, he began saving his creations. 

Now, the art gallery in the Kenneth Shouldice Library on the campus of LSSU, is displaying Moody's doodles; or as they're known: Moodles.

Professor Moody gave me a guided tour of his creations.

"Now these are Volutes you see, or spirals. And that volute shape which I like of course." Moody said.

"You'll see over here in individual letters, E's. That's perhaps the most carried away I've gotten in terms of a letter, M. In terms of gothic architecture." He said.

Professor Moody creates his doodles for friends. He does a lot of monograms and borders that he puts on the sides of letters. 

He said this is the first time his Moodles have been on display.

"Very few people know I do it. This was, what would you say i was thinking, should I really reveal the quiet sort of private part of my life. Which these are, I mean my friends that receive them know about them but i don't think, for the most part. And they've never seen this array okay, they've seen individual ones or groups of them if they happen to stop by the house." Moody said.
During my visit, Professor Moody spoke of his doodles with pride

"Each one is the best thing that came on the block and perspective." Moody said.

"I don't know that any of these help me balance the cosmos." He said.

They may not balance the cosmos, but studies have shown that doodling can help people concentrate.

"Yeah, I could agree to that. If you're sitting at the table and you're working away on a doodle and there's something you're kind of processing. I could see that, cause if you're thinking about, if it's a class or a trip or whatever. I could see that." Moody said.

Professor Moody said he has thousands of doodles at his home, although, after moving to a new house five years ago, he can no longer find his very first. He prefers to doodle with a ballpoint pen; markers and pencils don't give him the crisp, clean lines that he likes. But for all his years of doodling; the swirls, lines and volutes. He said he's no artist.

"I can't draw. Drawing and being artistic is not my calling but I can, these, this is something I can do that I enjoy. And if it has artistic quality it's the accidental by-product." Moody said.

Through the years, Professor Moody's doodles have been transformed into note cards and onto the face of a grandfather clock. There are also countless letters graced by his work.

He said he hopes people find the LSSU exhibit entertaining. When it ends later this month, the Moodles will go back into his collection, not to be seen again. Like a meteor flashing across the sky, he said.

But while the public display will end, Professor Moody's said his work will not.

"I'll probably keep doodling until I can't hold the paper in my wheelchair." Moody said.

The exhibit, Moodles, is on display in the library art gallery on the campus of Lake Superior State University through March 15.

Some of Professor Moody's doodles can be found here.

Photo courtesy John Shibley, LSSU

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