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SVA’s 2021 Animation and Computer Art Thesis Projects Are Out of This World
May 6, 2021 by Maeri Ferguson
A still from an animated film featuring colorful dialogue bubbles and other symbols.

Hannah Sun (MFA Computer Arts), still from Blip, animated short.

Credit: Hannah Sun

Unexpected double lives, mysterious alternate realms, impending environmental doom, tech addiction, the complexities of parent-child relationships, gender fluidity, racial justice—these are just a few of the themes explored in this year’s crop of animation and computer art thesis projects at SVA. Students from our BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual AffectsMFA Computer Arts and BFA Animation departments—the last of these led by Hsiang Chin Moe (MFA 2008 Computer Art), the trailblazing education chair of Women In Animation—are celebrating the conclusion of their degree programs with intricate and impressive final works.

Here’s just a small sampling of the talent on display.

A still from Cariño, from BFA Animation students Carlos Taborda, Ashley Williams, and Roshel Amuruz, BFA Computer Art)

Roshel Amuruz, Carlos Taborda and Ashley Williams (all BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects), still from Cariño, animated short.

Credit: Roshel Amuruz, Carlos Taborda and Ashley Williams

BFA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects

In the spring-hued Cariño, by Roshel Amuruz, Carlos Taborda and Ashley Williams, a young boy tries to impress his same-sex crush. The Little Knight, by Jessica Stagnari, Kathryn Willis and Julie Zhang, subverts fairytale cliché by telling the story of a girl who wants to be a knight and rescues a boy who wants to be a princess. Javier Colón’s The Lazy Person’s Guide to Saving the World makes environmentally responsible life hacks a bit more accessible. Lights Out, by Audrey Dupupet and Sherilyn Laurie, offers a snapshot into the life of a young Black boy whose confrontations with police are unpredictable and frightening. And Ballad of Yuka, by GJ Pelczar, uses a stunning animation style to tell the story of a cowgirl searching for a mysterious man that turns out to be her past self.

A poster for an animated film.

Ella Cesari (BFA Animation) poster for Slam Poet.

Credit: Ella Cesari
A poster for an animated film showing several hands holding medical equipment.

Zoe Lyttle (BFA Animation), poster for SHOTS.

Credit: Zoe Lyttle

BFA Animation

Ella Cesari gives a whole new meaning to the term “slam poet” with a film by the same name that follows Antonia, a mellow spoken word poet with a secret: She’s also notorious pro wrestler Acetoni. Her two lives never intersect—until she accidentally double-books one night! Documentary and animation come together in the hybrid short SHOTS, by Zoe Lyttle, using clips from over 30 hours of interviews focused on the experience of living with chronic illness and disability within the United States. The film digs into body dysmorphia and the struggle of finding and affording care and medication. In Rose Kang’s touching film Junk, a girl’s visit to her mother's home turns surreal when they get swept into a junk realm and must resolve their long standing relationship issues, including the mother’s hoarding. (Kang is also a 2021 Alumni Scholarship award winner.) And make sure to bring your tissues for Jii-chan, by Joie Lim, about an imaginative little girl who mistakes her dying grandfather for an astronaut.

MFA Computer Arts

PANIK! (Torschlusspanik), by Daiqi Cu, is an interactive animated short film that mixes 2D and 3D styles, inspired by stories of endless deadlines and goals, and feelings of anxiety and panic—a timely subject, to be sure. In Blip we get a parallel theme, as creator Hannah Sun explores the side effects of our global digital addiction. And Chloe Xiangyu Shi’s The Name of the Plum Blossom, mixed materials are used to tell the story of the ways the artist’s mother, a tailor and a remarried woman in 1980s China, have affected her as a woman today.

These are just a few of the many projects to come from these three SVA programs, whose graduates go on to create for major animation studios, design firms or their own fine-art practices. We can’t wait to show you the full films when they are complete—watch this space!

A collage-like image of traffic and varied buildings.

Chloe Xiangyu Shi, still from The Name of the Plum Blossom, mixed-media film.

Credit: Chloe Xiangyu Shi