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An Eye for Art: Exhibit to showcase ‘Icons of American Animation’ at McDaniel College, Carroll Arts Center

McDaniel College and the Carroll County Arts Council are hosting “Icons of American Animation,” an exhibit highlighting 20th century animation. The show will be held from Jan. 3 to March 12 at both venues. With more than 150 pieces of original art, the exhibit promises to be one of the largest of its kind, with an emphasis on notable characters, films, animators, and production studios associated with both film and television.

Robert Lemieux, an associate professor of communication and cinema at McDaniel College, is curating the show. “For me, I love the challenge of becoming more knowledgeable about the subject of an exhibition and the challenge of how to entertain an audience,” Lemieux said.

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The exhibit features art from more than 30 production studios, 15 Academy Award-winning or nominated films, and 20 films from the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. Art from such notable studios as Walt Disney, Terrytoons, UPA, Hanna Barbara, Warner Bros., MGM, Jay Ward, Walter Lantz, and Fleischer Studios will be on display.

The art is on loan from the Mike and Jeanne Glad and the Glad Family Trust. Mike Glad has been collecting art since the late 1970s, when he stumbled across animation art at an auction. Many consider his collection to be the world’s most extensive. It includes domestic and international animation, and many of the pieces have been shown at museums around the world.

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A 1940 drawing from "Pinocchio."
A 1940 drawing from "Pinocchio." (OS12000 sp #54933/Lyndi McNulty)

Sponsors include the Maryland State Arts Council and many local businesses. Collaborative partners include the Carroll County Chamber of Commerce and the Carroll County Public Library.

This is the fourth major exhibit Lemieux has curated. The three previous exhibitions include the “History of Comic Strips,” Caldecott Award-winning children’s books, and the “History of the Circus.” All the shows have been a collaboration with the Corcoran School of Art & Design, with professional assistance from the National Gallery of Art.

Lemieux brings ideas for the exhibitions to the Corcoran’s Graduate Design Program. They collaborate on how the show will be produced and promoted, with the students providing the design, graphics, and layout ideas. It is a real-world experience for the students.

According to Lemieux, traditional animation involves numerous hand-drawn and hand-painted images that are photographed frame by frame. The continuous, fast-moving film frames trick the eye into believing that actual movement is occurring. The movement brings the images and characters to life.

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In the early 20th century, many thought it was too time consuming to draw individual images to produce animation, but dedicated animators persevered. Two of the exhibit’s earliest artworks are a 1927 ink drawing of Oswald the Rabbit and a 1928 graphite drawing of Steamboat Willie, both by Walt Disney.

The Carroll County Public Library is also part of the collaborative effort to promote the exhibit. “We are proud to be part of such a tremendous partnership. This is what makes Carroll unique. You have multiple organizations coming together and all contributing to make something for our community,” said Lisa Picker, director of communications for the library.

According to Picker, “the library is contributing three programs: “Blender Basics: Simple Rigging for Animation,” an online video from the Exploration Commons staff to be shown Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. (ages 12 and older). Attendees will learn tips and tricks to make a Blender model move and to prepare it for 3D animation. This video will also go over the basic function of the Pose Mode (Animation Mode) in Blender. See the website at https://ccpl.librarymarket.com/events/blender-basics-simple-rigging-animation.

“Making Animated Zoetrope Art” will be held at the Eldersburg branch on Feb. 26, at 1:30 p.m. for ages 8-17. Participants will use an old animation technique to draw illustrations and see them come to life. They will use a template to create drawings and place them on a zoetrope — a rotating machine that creates the illusion of movement to view your illustrations in motion. Please be aware that this program will include the use of strobe lights. Registration required. See details at https://ccpl.librarymarket.com/events/make-animated-zoetrope-art.

“Making Animated Zoetrope Art” will also be hosted by the Finksburg branch on March 4, at noon for ages 6-17. Participants will pick up a kit, watch an online video and learn how to create their own short cartoon. Register to get a take home kit at https://ccpl.librarymarket.com/events/flipbook-animation-camp-1 or watch the video and try it with supplies you have at home. The video can be viewed on the Carroll County Public Library Facebook page or the YouTube channel.

The Carroll County Arts Council is co-host of the “Icons of American Animation” show. In addition, the “Whimsy” exhibit will be held in the Community Gallery from Jan. 17 through March 5. The exhibit will include 20-plus local artists displaying works inspired by video games, folklore, animation and comics.

“We wanted to add a local aspect to the big animation show and highlight the amazing art that [is made by] artists that live here,” said Moriah Tyler, education and visual arts coordinator. “There is a wide variety of artwork including 2D mediums, sculpture and textiles.” The public opening for both shows is Jan. 27 from 5-7 p.m.

Lemieux will be presenting curator talks and a variety of other events are planned, including films. “It is such a great feeling to be able to present this to the community and have their support,” Lemieux said.

For more information about the exhibit, go to https://iconsofanimation.com/.

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.

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