Filmmaking with Youth: Using Art and Poetry as Inspiration

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A free screening and discussion of two recent artist-youth animation projects will also provide information about opportunities for future projects.

The two collaborative projects will be featured Saturday, May 11, 1 p.m., at Wealthy Theater, 1130 Wealthy SE, Grand Rapids. Both projects used art and poetry as inspiration elements in workshops designed to teach media skills, increase visual literacy, and create youth animations.

“The Animated Poetry Project” was a collaboration between Grand Valley State University students with Suzanne Zack, visiting professor in the School of Communications, and North Park Montessori School sixth grade students and teachers. Students worked in teams to pre-visualize, build sets, design characters and create short animations inspired by nine short humorous poems. Students recorded their voices, storyboarded their films, animated their pieces, and added sound effects and music. Seven students from Grand Valley worked with 20 students during March Reading Month.

“Sculpture Garden” is an animated film created by area youth in a week-long animation workshop. For this animation, students selected a favorite contemporary sculpture from the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. They researched the artist, then created and animated a small model of the sculpture. They discussed the artistic practice and intent of their chosen sculptor, and considered what artistic elements might drive their own vision. Then, they designed and animated their own sculpture, building their own Sculpture Garden. The five-and-a-half-minute film premiered locally in October at the Wealthy Theatre. It had an international premiere in March 2013 at the Monstra Animation Festival in Lisbon, Portugal.

Sculpture Garden was created as part of Animation Workshop Group, a group of artist-teachers who believe that animation can help children express their creativity and tell their own stories. Started in 1971, AWG is a project of ASIFA, the international animation association. Each year, in at least 15 countries, children around the world create animations based on a common theme.

Since 2007, Grand Valley and the Grand Rapids Community Media Center have collaborated on AWG projects with co-teachers Deanna Morse and Gretchen Vinnedge holding annual workshops for children ages 5-16. The completed films have been screened at numerous international festivals including VAFI (Croatia), Hiroshima International Animation Festival (Japan), Annecy (France), Kecskemet (Hungary), Kids for Kids (Canada), Cinanima (Portugal) and during the 2008 Olympics in China.