Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Karen Aqua

Today's awesome woman is Karen Aqua (1954 - 2011), US artist/animator, and there is absolutely no way I can do her justice. Her work comprised elements of ritual, tribal culture, myth, questing, and rebirth, all with a very distinctive look that came partly from her own unique spirit and partly from the fact that she drew all of her films by hand. She was an artist in the finest sense of the word. She was born in Wilkes-Barre, PA and grew up in a small town nearby. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design, which is where she began animating.

Her films included TAXONOMY (2011) TWIST OF FATE (2009), ROSWELL: NOT JUST ALIENS (2008), SENSORIUM (2007), ANDALUZ (2004), GROUND ZERO/SACRED GROUND (1997), PERPETUAL MOTION (1992), KAKANIA (1989), NINE LIVES (1988) and VIS-À-VIS (1982). She collaborated on the film CANDYJAM (1988).

From the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art website (referencing a retrospective of her work that will happen this coming Sunday), QUOTE: Created from exceptionally refined and colorful drawings, Aqua’s style is also characterized by compelling subject matter, exploring the human condition through themes of culture and transformation. Aqua stated, “I strive to create films which are more poetry then (sic) prose, making visible the invisible.”

Those of us who have brought up children in the last 20 years have probably seen some of her work on Sesame Street.

Starting in 1990, she produced, directed and animated a total of 22 segments which included music by her husband and frequent collaborator, Ken Field, and percussionist Ken Winokur), but she also had several decades of award-winning work dealing with sometimes very dark and complicated themes. S See, e.g., Ground Zero/Sacred Ground (1997 • 9 minutes) (link also includes a list of her awards and festival screenings). She died on May 30, 2011, ten years after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

For more detailed information, please see the following: