Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nice Ink !

Several weeks ago I got an email from writer Robert Ito requesting an interview for a piece on Stop Motion in California he was writing for the New York Times. Here he is looking closely into a lighted tin lantern which houses Halfland's tiny insect band for the bug party scenes.

I was fervently delighted at the thought of being mentioned specifically in the New York Times because it was the New York Times' Sunday Magazine that first introduced me to the phenomenal work of Julie Taymor that changed my life so completely. That exposure and the opportunity to work on three of her opera productions in the early Nineties, started a cascade of events that ultimately brought me to Halfland.

Robert could not have been more appreciative and lovely during his four and half hour visit. Nor could he have guessed that his email prompted round-the-clock scrubbing of every inch of the place to make me feel ready for such prime time honor. By the time he got here, I was fully zonked. I was glad I could say what I think I wanted, or actually, glad to be able to speak at all.

I love the article that Robert wrote. Not just because it amazingly gave Halfland its first mainstream public recognition, but because of the articulate clarity that artist John Frame gave to the soul of the piece, which was how personal works of art are distinct from larger stop motion films.

Robert's article gave a brief moment in the spotlight to this extraordinary clan of stop motion filmmakers mentioned who love nothing more than to push puppets one frame at a time to tell their original tales.

My husband sent the article link to everyone he's ever met. It was like he was passing out cigars after a baby is born. Friends who have no interest at all in Stop Motion forever more take what I'm making here seriously, as if being mentioned in such a prestigious publication means that what I'm doing is "officially" important. The article mention validated what I make to them. People at ballet applauded when my teacher congratulated me on the mention. (But then again they applaud everything over there.)

It is nice to no longer have to defend what I'm doing so much, if you know what I mean. I'm not just the crazy nut case toiling away making little things for no reason in some people's minds. But here's possibly the surprisingly BEST two things that have come from the gift of Robert's noticing Halfland so far...

While I greatly appreciate sincere well wishes that have come this direction from this opportunity, (and understand the silence about it from some friends) at the core, it hasn't changed what I'm doing or why. That to me is a gold nugget of knowledge to have. I've proven to myself that I'm not after public recognition by having a taste of it and not feeling swayed. I'm just happily doing what I'm doing. And I hope to continue to, despite setbacks and challenges. (Like moving!--more coming in other posts.)

And secondly, among the incredible artists whom I greatly admire who took the time to write their well wishes and make a connection, one popped up in that same inbox yesterday named, Maggie Rudy. Her work, MOUSELAND (can you imagine how similar our world's names are?!) thrills me with joy and delight! I'm packing madly and haven't had a moment to read and look and buy everything she makes--yet but I was gobsmacked at her unusually artful levels of detail and the charm of her mouse characters. We've decided via email that we are some sort of Art Sisters!

And Lisa Wood, the astonishing talent, making spectacular detailed diorama featuring real bugs living fully realized lives we would all recognize, has given me the finest award possible. After connecting due to the article, she now calls me friend.

I wonder exactly how big this cloth we are cut out of is?! That's the beneficial thing, without the article, I would never have known these women!

My thanks once again to Robert Ito for thinking enough of Halfland to take notice and for being so generous in his gift.

PS: I'm trying to persuade him to have his little son make a fish for the underwater scene covered in...
what else but the NYTimes article newsprint! I'd love to see such a magnificent fish swimming with the others in the Halfland sea.


  1. w00ttothew00tw00t, Karima!

  2. This is such a great story Shelley. You really deserve the recognition your getting and so much more in my opinion.

    Halfland has inspired me ever since I found it, and its interesting to see what inspires you.


  3. Jeff, that is incredibly kind of you to say. And likewise back to you.

  4. niiice. Congrats Shelley. Very much deserved!!


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