Lisa Barcy is a mixed-media artist, award winning animator, and native Chicagoan. Her work includes stop-motion and experimental animation, collage, book arts, and theater puppets. Her short films have screened all over the world including Slamdance, The Ottawa International Animation Festival, The Black Maria Film Festival, and Chicago International Film Festival. She’s also created music videos for musicians such as Andrew Bird and created animated projections for dance performances by The Seldoms. Her BFA is from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and MA from Columbia College Chicago’s Interdisciplinary Arts program. She teaches at DePaul University.
My work begins from state of play and experimentation with materials that often come with a fragmented history attached. As a result, I collect things (bones, letters, dolls, diaries, dolls, etc.) that become a springboard to new projects. I seem to be drawn to cultural remnants and dead people's cast-offs as a means of developing narrative. Often these materials end up in collages or mixed media pieces, but when I’m ready for a long-term commitment they become stop-motion animated films. The girls in this film act out their childhood daydreams, usurping authority while pondering both their physical condition and the origins of the universe, and how they intertwine. While the original paper the characters were printed on is in various stages of disintegration, (hence, ephemeral) they are granted a second life in the film.
The animation is created with 2D stop-motion puppets created from scans I’ve made of the original paper dolls, animated on a 3-dimensional stage set. Scenes of daydreaming are created using a combination of backlit sand, acetate cut-out puppets, and composited in After Effects. Everything was animated in my basement.
The Ephemeral Orphanage
Animated using found vintage paper dolls from a 1920s newspaper, The Ephemeral Orphanage follows a group of loosely supervised but strictly disciplined young orphans as they explore their mysterious orphanage and the hidden lives of their secretive caregivers. As the girls explore and imagine, the film examines the adults' attempts to dictate and control what children learn and the children's talent for discovering forbidden knowledge.
I'm a third generation lifelong Chicagoan. The characters in this film were created from paper dolls that were printed in the Chicago Tribune in the early 1920's, and belonged to my grandmother. I found them in her attic along with the rest of Chicago history (Columbian Exposition souvenirs, CPS report cards, you name it), as her formative years during the Depression prevented her from ever throwing anything away. While not specifically about Chicago, the film has its roots here. The girls in this film act out their childhood daydreams, usurping authority while pondering both their physical condition, the origins of the universe, and how they intertwine. The word “ephemeral” denotes impermanence, and while the original paper the characters were printed on is in various stages of disintegration, they are granted a second life both in the narrative, and in the contemporary medium of animation.