Welcome. This site documents my graduate research project.

The purpose of this study is to analyze the social and emotional benefits of teaching and learning animation with small groups of people from marginalized communities. Drawing from the literature of art education and animation therapy, an emerging subfield of art therapy, I designed and facilitated animation workshops in informal learning environments. I examined similarities and differences between art education and animation therapy and investigated how the animation process was meaningful to participants. The main research questions are: Can and should art education be therapeutic? What is the correlation between minority-specific needs in education and a particular set of benefits provided through animation? What is the importance of play and control in animation?

I worked with three separate groups, creating animation workshops within the pre-existing structures of after-school and community programs. The first workshop took place weekly, over a four month period at an immigrant-support organization; I worked with 5 to 10 adult participants who created one animated short. The second workshop became a long-term project with six 10 to 12-year-olds at a bilingual after-school community center, where students met weekly for two semesters, creating multiple animations. The third workshop was conducted as a week-long project with six students at an after-school program. In this context, my research deepened through working with one participant who had recently immigrated from Congo.

Each animation session was designed to foster cognitive, social, and emotional aspects of learning, which students explored through watching, creating, and discussing the final animation they produced. I used action research and autoethnography to collect data which included content analysis, observation, and interviews with workshop participants, professional animators, educators, and art therapists. I reflected on my own experiences with animation as an immigrant and art educator.

As a result of my research experience, I rid myself of expectations, allowing for the process of creation to take priority over predetermined results. I realized the importance of both play and control in animation, and the agency it provides creators when working with self-representation and time. Time emerged as one of the most important aspects of animation; it functions as a tool for communication, and also emotional and linguistic literacy. Another invaluable aspect of animation is the utility that results from the process itself--repetitive, meditative movements that evoke commitment, focus, and often collaboration. The most satisfying result of my research is facilitating the feeling of magical experience, of creating something out of nothing, the feeling of putting together hundreds of still images and creating movement. It is a experience incomparable to any other medium or form of art.