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Matchbox Show, Laura Heit
Matchbox Show, Laura Heit

Two experimental animators, Laura Heit and Jeremy Rourke, will perform live with their films at this year’s Ashland Independent Film Festival, April 7 to 11, 2016.

Animation and performance artist Laura Heit, whose work has been shown at MOMA and the Guggenheim, will perform her Matchbox Show on April 8 at 6:45p.m. at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum, where one of her interactive media installations, Hypothetical Star, will be on view April 7-10. Heit’s second installation, Two Ways Down, along with a selection of her animated films, will be featured in the In Scene exhibition at the Schneider Museum of Art, April 6 – June 11. Also at ScienceWorks, Jeremy Rourke, a San Francisco-based animator and musician, will give two presentations of Stopping the Motion: An Expanded Cinema Performance on Saturday, April 9; one for families at 1p.m., and one for adults at 7 p.m.

Heit’s and Rourke’s work exemplifies the festival’s new interest in blending film with music, visual art, and performance. “Laura Heit and Jeremy Rourke are producing wonderful examples of ‘expanded cinema,’ ” said Richard Herskowitz, the festival’s director of programming. “They are allowing us to extend our film festival beyond movie theaters and into gallery and concert venues. I think audiences will be charmed, entertained, and challenged by their works. In our 15th year, we are excited to bring these new explorations to Southern Oregon.”

Heit, based in Portland, OR, works in animated art and performance and employs stop-motion, live-action puppetry, hand-drawing, and computer animation in her short films. Her work is screened extensively at museums, film festivals, and mass media around the world, including the London International Film Festivals and on PBS. She earned her MFA at the Royal College of Art in London and she was previously the co-director of the Experimental Animation Project at Cal Arts. She was the subject of an Oct. 8, 2015 Oregon Art Beat TV show, in which she explains how her art has developed to encompass film, art installation and performance.

Heit’s Two Ways Down at the Schneider Museum of Art is a hand-drawn animated, sculptural installation and film that takes inspiration from the Hieronymus Bosch work: Garden of Heavenly Delights. It is part of In Scene, a group exhibition of eight artists who work in a variety of mediums such as video, installation, sculpture, and photograms in order to explore the state of the natural world in modern times. Hypothetical Star, at ScienceWorks, invites viewers to imagine a star system too deep inside or too far away to see. Heit animates images photographed through a digital microscope overlaid with raw footage taken form the Apollo 12 mission. Her piece uses thrown shadows from tabletop dioramas and reflected and refracted animated projections to create a universe of hypothetical stars, moons, and planets.

Heit’s performance at ScienceWorks, titled Traveling Light: Animation, and her Matchbox Show will feature a selection of animated films curated by Heit, including some of her own films. Heit comments, “The films I’ve chosen to show are by filmmakers, cartoonists, and animators who have also found themselves creating work on paper, or on film, or in clay – using their hands as the translators and meaning makers of a deep and innate sense of the world.” Heit will end the evening with a 25-minute live performance in which she performs a variety of puppet shows within matchboxes. The performance is projected behind her on a big screen. Heit has toured her Matchbox Show for the past 15 years to locations as diverse as The Netherlands and the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Jeremy Rourke, a San Francisco artist who works with film, collage, animation, and music, will also perform at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in Ashland, OR. Rourke’s Stopping the Motion, an Expanded Cinema Performance, will feature, according to the artist, “stop motion animation, time lapse video, sound samples, audio loops, quotes, songs, singing bowls, and experimental interactions between myself and my media.” Rourke was selected as San Francisco Weekly’s Best New Animator/Musician of the Year in 2011, and he has performed at the S.F. Exploratorium, among many other venues.

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