'Colby’s Zoo of Legendary Creatures' brings supernatural to life

<p>Colby Golden started his own collection of art, "Colby's Zoo of Legendary Creatures," after having his passion for art animation started at a young age. The gallery is on the first floor of the Art and Journalism Building, which features sculptures and two-dimensional animations of various creatures. <em>DN PHOTO ALLIE KIRKMAN</em></p>

Colby Golden started his own collection of art, "Colby's Zoo of Legendary Creatures," after having his passion for art animation started at a young age. The gallery is on the first floor of the Art and Journalism Building, which features sculptures and two-dimensional animations of various creatures. DN PHOTO ALLIE KIRKMAN

What: “Colby’s Zoo of Legendary Creatures”

Where: Atrium Gallery (Art and Journalism Building, first floor)

When: The gallery is open until April 15, and the reception is April 14 from 4-6 p.m. 

Colby Golden's passion for art animation started at a young age. 

The graduate student grew up watching “Wallace and Gromit” short films and became infatuated with stop motion animation and the idea of being able to act through a puppet.

This love only grew. When he came to college, Golden discovered the artistic, independent side of animation and being able to produce this art in a physical form.

After years of coming up with the right concepts and developing his ideas, Golden has now created an exhibition to showcase his love of animation and cryptozoology — a pseudoscience about the search for creatures whose existence hasn't been proven. 

“Colby’s Zoo of Legendary Creatures,” located on the first floor of the Art and Journalism Building, is Golden’s first real gallery. He features sculptures and two-dimensional tactile animations of creatures like sasquatches, werewolves, Mothman and a dragon.

Using cryptozoology as the primary subject matter, Golden’s aim is to bring to life a supernatural zoo of mysterious creatures — known as cryptids — to his viewers.

The whole story behind the gallery is that Golden is the curator of the zoo.

“The werewolves in the gallery bit me, so now I am a werewolf as well and run this zoo of supernatural creatures,” Golden said.

Golden said the idea of bringing the supernatural to life was a crazy one that took years to perfect.

“This gallery goes all the way back to my first year here when we were starting to think of ideas. I saw animated flip books, and I wanted to do that. I then came up with this way of animating with acrylic,” Golden said. “I thought I was going to do a story like one of those ‘Choose your own path’ stories in the gallery, but I had a hard time pitching it to my classmates."

Golden said he struggled at first and felt a pressure to make the exhibit more story-based, which was the typical graduation path in animation. 

But his classmates introduced the idea of it being more abstract, and it spiraled from there.

“I went home that night and came back with the idea of doing a zoo, and what better subject matter to use than cryptic,” Golden said. “I have been interested in cryptozoology since I was a little kid — it started with Bigfoot, graduated into Loch Ness Monster and now I am all the way up to Mothman and actually doing research and reading eye witness statements to try to find out what is real and fake.”

After coming up with the idea, Golden chose which cryptics he liked most that would work best in a physical animated space.

He's now able to showcase his work independently after years of going through the graduate program.

“Our first two years in the art graduate program, we do a group exhibition of what we have done in school but this is my first big, independent show where I made stuff specifically for this,” Golden said. “I was fortunate enough to be the only graduating grad student who needed the gallery space so I could have it all to myself.”

His gallery features a variety of different media for his creations, such as copper electro-forming, clay, glass, acrylic and steel, in order to help convey the idea of each creature to the viewer, according to muncieevents.com.

After years of trial and error, pitching different stories and tweaking ideas, Golden said creating his gallery was an overall great experience. But the most memorable moment he had was with creating his dragon or what he calls his "baby."

“I love my werewolves and playing with the idea that they bit me, and I’m a werewolf now, but spending time building my dragon over the summer and seeing it now is the best feeling,” Golden said. “When his body finally came together with his wings and all, and he was just there and alive — he was my baby and that was a very proud moment. I enjoyed the pain and torture and every aspect of what I went through with him.”

Golden said his goal now is to expand his gallery and get it shown in other galleries, museums and spaces around the country, like the International Museum of Cryptozoology

“There is so much more stuff that I want to do with the show that I just didn’t have the time to do," he said. "If I can get people to agree to let me show it in other places, I would love to expand and show off my work.”

“Colby’s Zoo of Legendary Creatures” is open now and will be until April 15.

There will be an opening reception on April 14 from 4-6 p.m. where Golden is expected to dress up in his full werewolf form.

“It will be like a performance piece, so I encourage everyone to come have a good time, ask me questions and give me some feedback," he said. "This is a time to just celebrate the show, and it would mean to world to me to have people come explore all I have done.” 

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