Over the next few weeks, SVA will be highlighting some of the many outstanding projects from the 2021 Alumni Scholarship Award winners. Today’s featured thesis project is BFA 2021 Animation student Rose Kang’s 2D animated short film JUNK, about family and baggage. JUNK centers on a young girl who tries to confront her estranged mother about her hoarding issues. However, when things take a turn for the worse, they must resolve their misunderstandings to escape a fantastic realm.
Tell us about your project. What inspired the idea?
My film, JUNK, follows Amy, her mom, and their strained relationship. One day Amy visits her mom to confront her mother’s hoarding issues, and as a result, they get into an argument that traps them into a “junk realm.” I wanted to tell a story that was reflective of my own relationship with my mom. As I’ve gotten older, I learned more about my mom’s life and understood her struggles as an immigrant, woman, and person. She isn’t just my mom, but someone with her own story to tell and [it's] quite an amazing one at that.
What most surprised you once you started working on the project?
The number of people who reached out about their stories and how they could relate. When you work on something as laborious as animation, it’s super easy to get hung up on all of the tiny faults you see along the way. However, when people would mention their excitement for the film and even receiving the Alumni Scholarship, I realized that I should still be proud of my work with all the support from the people who cheered me on.
What was a highlight of living and studying in New York City?
I come from a pretty small, conservative town in Pennsylvania where there are only handfuls of POC communities, so coming to a place like NYC has been amazing. Even with the political climate and current events, the community here is so strong, and it’s so amazing to see the support we have for each other in light of all of the hate that is going on. Just being here has taught me so much, given me lifelong friends, and allowed me the space to discover who I am and where I want to be.
What is something you learned at SVA that you’ll always take with you?
The importance of creating a cooperative environment. I’ve learned and grown so much just by osmosis—surrounded by so many talented individuals. I’m constantly amazed by the work produced by my peers, first-year students and alumni. Being surrounded by such a supportive group of like-minded friends with similar passions and goals is crucial—and crucial to surviving in a creative industry.
Was there a teacher or course that was essential for you?
Several teachers have been essential to my learning experience at SVA. Stephen Gaffney—one of the kindest and most passionate teachers you’ll ever meet. I always loved going to his class, and even though it was a six-hour studio, it was always a great environment and a huge source of stress relief throughout my week. Frank Gresham always puts his students first and is always someone you can talk to. I’ve never met someone so passionate about teaching and storytelling. Lastly, Niko Guardia, who knows so much about the field and I saw such an improvement in my work after taking his courses.
What advice do you have for next year’s students going through your program?
Animation is hard. Remember to take care of yourself and that your mental and physical health should always be your priority. Your classmates and faculty are there to support you, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Also, have fun, enjoy your time here and take advantage of having full rein on your creative projects. Lastly, always have autosave on and when you’re back in the labs, never work off the server. I’m excited to see all the fantastic work you’ll do!
For this year’s SVA Alumni Scholarship Awards, 59 students were chosen from a pool of hundreds of applicants. They were granted scholarships worth more than $40,000 for projects as varied as design products, animation, painting, and photography. For more information about the Alumni Scholarship Awards and to see a complete list of last year’s recipients, click here. To Support the Talent this year, you can donate online at sva.edu/give.