As a medium, animation provides creators with a means to create an entire world from their imagination, and thanks to the advent of low-cost computer applications, this medium is increasingly accessible to those who choose to explore it.  Animation allows a creator to manipulate images frame by frame, squashing and stretching time while communicating ideas and stories.  This month, an art and animation exhibition was held in Brooklyn, which highlighted the work of artists with disabilities who are supported through AHRC New York City’s Day Services programs.  Models, drawings, and other elements used to create these works adorned the walls of the 5 Myles Gallery, where the animations were screened to visitors.

Exhibiting Movement and Imagination

On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, invited guests and local residents gathered at 5 Myles Gallery in Brooklyn, to view short animated videos created by artists with disabilities from AHRC New York City’s Walter and Evelyn Redfield Day Services.  The group exhibition, titled Finding a Vision, included work from artists, Denise BrinsonSilvana DuncanNatasha GembkaFrancis KarmiolfGilda LindenblattDanny MarreroGlen Russ, and Robert Schulbaum, each of whom attended the event, engaging with visitors while explaining the process of creating their work.  Along with their videos, the artists included the individual elements used within the animations as a part of the exhibit.

Creating a World of One’s Own

In order to create their animated works, the artists conceptualized their projects.  Some chose to write a story, while others used their animation skills to celebrate a personal passion or to explain a concept.  Once the concepts were in place, the artists began to create physical pieces of artwork, which were arranged and photographed frame by frame with digital cameras and compiled within an animation app called Smoovie.

Each step of the process was completed with assistance from Art ConsultantJoslyn Richardson, who noted the unique quality of animation as a medium that allows people to create a cohesive, time-based expression by accomplishing small steps over time.  “One of the artists happens to speak very slowly,” said Joslyn, “but animation provides her with an opportunity to play with time, to speed up her message for an audience, and to communicate in a new way.”

The exhibition space was arranged by Community Support SupervisorNick Legowski, who connected with the gallery curator through a friend.  The resulting display was visually striking and offered artists to show the community what they can do.

Atoms and Planets

Do you know how the atom works?” asked animator, Gilda Lindenblatt, greeting guests. “I can show you.”  To the tune of a blaring brass band, Gilda’s piece, Atoms, and Planets, explains the arrangement and function of protons, neutrons, and electrons as they operate inside the most basic unit of matter, the atom, and compares their orbits to the workings of our solar system.

Reviving a Musical Moment

Glenn Russ is a big music fan and used his drawing and animation skills to recreate a performance of The Jackson Five that was broadcast on the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour in September of 1972.  To do so, Glenn created faces to represent each character, and added one of several mouth positions when capturing each frame with the camera, adding lip-sync to his creation and bringing his characters to life.

Glenn’s drawings have also been featured in print, in the book, Drawing Autism, by Jill Mullin. The book celebrates the artistry and self-expression found in the drawings, paintings, and collages created by people diagnosed with autism.

AHRC New York City thanks the 5 Myles Gallery for inviting these artists to share their work, and also the support staff who work each day to help people to achieve their goals.  In addition to the videos described above, six other animated videos were displayed, with themes including friendship, fashion, science fiction, and abstraction.  Links to all the videos appear below.