Art of Animation Features Top Animation Artists

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The show currently on display in the Guenzel Gallery is “The Art of Animation.” This exhibit is a particular favorite of mine as it combines my love of film with traditional artistic disciplines like drawing and painting. I worked with the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) to secure the award-winning films and to contact the animation artists to obtain their process pieces. Due to licensing restrictions and the high cost of limited use rights with film studios in the US, the NFB, which is an agency of the Canadian government, became my best access to the highest quality of stop motion animated films.

After an animated  film is completed, most stop motion images are filed away, never to see the light of day. Because of this, the NFB artists readily agreed to display their hand done works, including Oscar® nominees Cordell Barker, Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis.  Wendy and Amanda were nominated this year for “Wild LIfe.” A series of their gouache paintings from the film are on display, along with the drawings from their other Academy Award nominated film, “When the Day Breaks,”  and Cordell’s gouache painted cels for “The Cat Came Back.” The other artists’ media ranges from watercolor to a rare technique called the pinscreen, where images that resemble charcoal drawings are created by pushing pins to various heights through as screen.

Imagine my excitement to receive the original drawings and paintings, as well as production secrets of these films. Beyond my position at the art school, it was easy to get caught up in the outcome of the Oscars this year, cheering on Amanda and Wendy. Also while watching the film, “Hugo,” I understood references to the beginnings of the movie industry, which included simple animation.  Without research for the exhibition’s educational materials, I might have missed these references.

It’s gratifying to see that “The Art of Animation” appeals to every age group, from toddlers who enjoy some of the more whimsical imagery and music, through adults who appreciate both the artistry and deeper meaning of some of the films. A special family event on July 6 ( just prior to the close of the exhibition on July 16) offers another fun opportunity to understand how animation works. Come and enjoy the matinee-like atmosphere at the Art School from 3-5pm as you participate in making a movie that fits in your hand, to take home. In other words, you’ll be filmed to create a flip book of still images that put you in motion by flipping the pages.

To gain further appreciation of “The Art of Animation” and other exhibitions, there will be a luncheon meeting for docents for the 2012 season on Wednesday, May 16. Docents receive a private tour of each exhibition so they can relate this information to gallery visitors on Fridays throughout the summer. If you’d like to be a part of this group and want to attend this organizational meeting, email Nancy Boyd at

I look forward to seeing you in the gallery this summer!    Kay

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