Stop-motion animation, the painstaking process of creating a motion picture one frame at a time, is not an art for the impatient. Ashley Gerst, a Ohio-grown, Brooklyn-based artist, illustrator, animator and multimedia artist, knows this firsthand.
Oxonians can get a peek at the slow process of animation in Gerst’s art exhibit, “The Spirit Seam: Sets and Clips,” on Jan. 23rd, as part of the Oxford Day for Art and YAC Art Crawl. A variety of tiny sets, minute props, and animation pieces used in the making of an upcoming animated film will be on display.
Gerst will be on-hand to talk about the animation process. It will mark her first time visiting Oxford. “I’ve traveled very little to the South,” she said. “So I’m very excited to go!”
The exhibit will be presented by misbits, a new Oxford media art space created and run by Valerie Guinn Polgar, whom Gerst met while they both studied in New York’s School of Visual Arts. Exhibits will be held regularly in a space at The Edison on University Avenue. The purpose of misbits is for the community to view and learn about art created through the use of technology.
To create the miniature world of her work-in-progress film, “The Spirit Seam,” Gerst utilized modern digital tech like 3D printing and laser cutting, in addition to the age-old techniques of hand-stitching and hand-painting models and props.
The film draws from the experiences of Gerst’s grandparents in a coal-mining community in rural Pennsylvania. In the film, a girl named Pollywog and her Pap-Paw are inseparable until illness threatens to fracture their family. Gerst has gone to great lengths to recreate miniaturized versions of her grandfather’s home, community and possessions in exacting detail as props for her film.
“This is actually a film about me processing my grief over the passing of my grandfather in 2013,” Gerst said. “That’s when I started the project. ‘The Spirit Seam’ is about my and my grandfather’s relationship with each other. He grew up in western Pennsylvania in a small coal-mining town where my great-grandfather was a coal miner. I wanted to recreate the nostalgia that I had for the stories he told me.”
In researching the project, Gerst came to know quite a bit about coal miners’ way of life and what drives them. “Being a coal miner is a very, very different kind of positivity. It’s much more fulfilling for them to view it as they’re lighting half the world. They go home at the end of the day, turn their lights on, and go, ‘Oh, I did that!’ Or they’re doing it for someone somewhere else in the world.”
While in town, Gerst will also participate in the Oxford Fiber Arts Festival. She will give a demonstration on how to create custom embroidery patterns and transfer them onto fabric from 10:30-11:30 a.m., Friday, Jan. 26th. She will also cover some tips and tricks for working with Gimp ( a free software program). Embroidery pattern designs can be created in Gimp, printed, and then traced onto fabric.
For more information on misbits, and “The Spirit Seam: Sets and Clips” exhibit, visit https://misbitsnma.com/.
For more on Ashley Gerst, visit her website at https://www.ashleygerst.com/.
For more info about the Oxford Fiber Arts Festival, visit https://www.oxfordarts.com/events/fiberfest.
D.L. Perea is an Oxford-based filmmaker, photographer and writer and also serves as senior media producer for Oxford-base PMQ Pizza Magazine.