Jane Wodening, Experimental Film Star and Intrepid Writer, Dies at 87

Jane Wodening, a former collaborator and wife of Stan Brakhage, an influential avant-garde filmmaker, passed away on November 17th at the age of 87. She led an intriguing life after her divorce, finding success as an author and recounting her experiences living a solitary life on the road and in a mountain shack.

Wodening, whose given name is Mary Jane Collom, grew up in Fraser, Colo, before meeting Brakhage and marrying at a young age. Together, the couple had five children and lived a simple existence in a century-old cabin in a Colorado ghost town for three decades. Brakhage’s experimental films often depicted their way of life in a unique and captivating manner.

Following their divorce in 1987, Wodening embarked on a transformative journey, living out of a brightly-colored Honda Civic, traveling across the country, and facing a multitude of challenges as a single woman. During this time, she wrote “Driveabout,” a book chronicling her experiences on the road. Her writing stood in contrast to her ex-husband’s, as her prose was engaging, folksy, and straightforward.

For a decade after, Wodening lived alone in a remote mountain shack, encountering delight in her solitude and finding community as a ham radio operator. She authored numerous books, including “Wolf Dictionary,” and led an enriching life, forming new connections and passions that fueled her creativity.

Wodening passed away at her home in Denver, leaving behind a diverse family of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. At the time of her death, she was working on a comprehensive history of the world, beginning with the Big Bang.

Wodening’s life was an exceptional journey of self-discovery, creativity, and perseverance, chronicled in her written works and celebrated by all who knew her. Her impact is enduring, leaving a mark on the world of filmmaking, literature, and beyond.

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