The Oklahoma State University Museum of Art has a mission to provide OSU art students with opportunities that provide them with hands-on experience. The museum has provided just that with the opening of Little Nemo’s Progress: Animation and Contemporary Art, which celebrates the history and creative endeavors over time in the field of animation.

The exhibition was overseen by guest curator Mora J. Beauchamp-Byrd and a group of students who were able to get a feel for the many aspects that go into opening a museum exhibit.

“I’m so proud of the students because of their dedication,” Beauchamp-Byrd said. “Every Wednesday, we met here at the museum at 8 a.m. before their classes started. So we brainstormed about what we would do with the timeline, what video games to include, exhibition design and they also did curatorial research. The big opportunity was for them to have a project that can come to fruition. Not just something that was an exercise, but something that ends up as an exhibition project that they can put on their resume. Our main interest was giving them some experience.”

Syd Hammond, an OSU arts senior who graduates in December, said she was able to gain experience in areas such as curation collections, research for the exhibit and working as a gallery supervisor. She said it was a hodgepodge of different areas of expertise that she can take with her into whichever area of the arts field she decides to pursue.

The exhibit features many things that showcase the history of animation. A timeline conveys animation dating back to 1832’s phenakistoscope (spindle viewer) to modern variations of animation that include video games and major motion pictures. There are also interactive parts to the exhibit, as well as examples of how animation is created with modern technology.

“I think they’ll just experience fun,” Hammond said. “There’s something that everybody can relate to. I think it’s just really fun and exciting that you can walk into a museum and discover something that they didn’t know was going to be here.”

The exhibit showcases works by contemporary artists, with some from the Carl and Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation Digital Art and Electronic Collection, and many artists. One artist whose work is on display is Lyndon J. Barrois, who was the animator on the “Matrix” trilogy and around 20 total major motion pictures.

“It’s cool to be able to show it (animation), and it’s also cool to be able to work in it,” Barrois said. “I’ve done like 20 feature films doing visual effects. It’s fun to be a part of that history and to be able to represent it in a museum setting like this, it’s a thrill.”

One of his works on display was a stop motion video replicating great moments in sports history. He said the 51-second video took around six weeks to complete. The difference to him between a stop motion project and visual effects for animation on a major movie is that he has more individual control over the oversight of something like a stop motion project.

“The similarities are the performance process,” Barrois said. “Creating a performance out of an inanimate object. The parameters of a film like the Matrix are different because there are so many things that go into it. Something like this museum piece is just me in control of all of it. But they’re equally as fun, but I actually get more fun out of this.”

Little Nemo’s Progress: Animation and Contemporary Art will be on display through Dec. 14 at the OSU Museum of Art, located at 720 S. Husband Street in downtown Stillwater. The museum is free and open to the public, and more information can be found by visiting museum.okstate.edu

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