Date of Submission

Spring 2011

Academic Program

Film and Electronic Arts


Peggy Ahwesh

Abstract/Artist's Statement

My Senior Project consists of two short hand-drawn animations, Animeditation and Golden Ears. In Animeditation I visualize a meditation, illustrating a surge of thought-images, and their inevitable retreat back to a pure and simple circle, a buzzing mantra. Golden Ears is a moral fable about a “Mountainear” (a fellow with mountains for ears) who is visited by a succession of foreboding intruders: an “Electionear,” an “Enginear” and an Auctionear.” Golden Ears speaks to my love of the wilderness, as well as my affection for drawing strange and silly characters. Both pieces are experiments in classical animation, an aging form in which every frame is drawn on paper, hand-colored and individually photographed using an enormous animation stand. My decision to attempt this medium was a natural one; animation seems to activate all aspects of my creativity. I have been drawing since I was old enough to grip a pencil. I remember drawing a Grizzly Bear eating a camper when I was very young, my grandmother standing over me, instructing me to draw bigger. I don’t really think I ever internalized her advice; throughout the course of this year I’ve drawn at least three thousand tiny images. But I guess if they’re projected on a big screen, it’s sort of like a big drawing. When I reached twelve or so I turned my attention towards filmmaking, creating silly movies of little value to anybody except for myself, that is to say, anybody who doesn’t find the sight of me jumping into bushes or mouthing along to Public Enemy particularly compelling. Animation blends filmmaking and drawing, empowering the animator with an infinite number of possibilities. The bond of these two forms imbue them with opportunities that each lacks on their own. When your drawings are filmed the imagination is rendered viewable. When you film your drawings you can devise your own system of movement, doing what a camera cannot do. For a chunk of the day you get to play God, creating a world complete with its own rules, its own aesthetic, its own proportions and physics. Through teaching myself how to animate, I happened upon several lessons that I cannot help applying to some sort of broader system of living. Every frame in an animation influences the next. If drawings began to morph or warp, I would embrace them and just try to follow along. As soon as I got comfortable working on a segment, a new one would suddenly appear. I caught on, and learned to appreciate those little pockets of familiarity while they still lasted, knowing all the while that the micro-habits and muscle-memories of the hand and wrist navigating the page would soon be refreshed. Often times, segments of the animation became so complex and intricate that I seemed only to exist within that little 9 x 12 universe, executing the drawings like an entranced servant to the page itself. A few months ago I was riding on the back of a friend’s motorcycle. The rider was telling me about his experience riding across the U.S. on a motorcycle, how you really feel every mile on a motorcycle. The same is true for animation. When you personally create every single frame by hand, there is a strong sensation of feeling the work, of earning it. Looking back at any given clip from my animations, I can explicitly recall the moment in which it was created. For every drawing there is the memory of the song I was listening to at the time, the people I was with, a vague recollection of the quality of light, the time of day, snowstorm or sunshine, irritated or mellow. This is perhaps my favorite feature of animating, and in a broader sense, my favorite feature of producing art; I am not satisfied unless the piece faithfully encapsulates that time of my life.

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