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Remembering Karen Aqua: a studio exhibition



KAREN AQUA (1954-2011)

Karen Aqua loved to draw. She would sit at her worktable surrounded by colored pencils, pastels, and stacks of small pieces of 4" x 6" paper. Over days of work, these sheets would fill with color, shapes, and narrative transformations. In the animation class I took with Karen during the summer of 2009 at Somerville Community Access Television, I learned that one second of animation needs at least 12 drawings. These changes from drawing to drawing, the "in betweens", had to be gradual to create smooth and flowing animation. Karen's films could contain upwards of 700 to 800 drawings. Every drawing, every gradual segment of transformation that was lovingly colored and rendered by Karen, could stand on its own as a work of consummate craft and artistry.

Her independently produced films, 13 in all, have been screened worldwide in festivals in Europe, Asia, North/South America, New Zealand, and the Middle East. During the 1990s she directed and animated 22 segments for Sesame Street. In May 2011, Karen was named a Fellow in Film and Video by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, 3 days prior to her death at 57.

I have been fortunate to have my print studio, Abrazos Press, across the hall from Karen Aqua and her studio mate Jeanée Redmond, and have been dazzled by the drawings that are now covering the walls of Karen's studio. Jeanée has found many gems in between pages in sketchbooks and pads of newsprint. It has been a heartful treasure hunt. Over 120 of Karen's drawings have been framed and will be on view and for sale on Sunday, December 2, from noon to 6 pm at the Miller Street Studio Building in Somerville at 11 Miller St. This work includes artwork originally created for Sesame Street and for her independent films as well as larger works that she created in between film projects. About 10 pieces from her last film Taxonomy will also be on view.


About Author

Annie Silverman is a relief printmaker and book artist living and working in Somerville who owns ABRAZOS PRESS, a teaching and professional print studio.

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