2019 John Simon Guggenheim Fellow
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The focus of my work lies somewhere between fable and fever dream where anthropomorphic creatures follow their own illogically logical pursuits and mysterious actions have dire consequences. The characters who live through my art come to me in unguarded moments, finding their way into my sketches and journal writings. Those who can speak for the silent parts of my experience come back again and again to stand as symbols encoding my personal history, drawing the thread of a story into the tangled interior forest. All of my artwork contains some level of autobiographical content masked by the invented reality.
The tactile intimacy of making puppet-based stop-motion animation enchants me—the clay and fibers, the wire and glue, making with my hands all that I imagine to exist in this self-created world and bringing it to life frame by frame. I work alone, primarily, while building my puppets and crafting my narrative. Then I spend long hours animating in isolation in garage and basement studios. The story grows. Recently I have had a couple of interns help me build a new set and assist with background animation. I am enjoying this new way of working. Their energy and dedication has been a valuable addition to my process.
In a review of my first feature-length film, Charles Cassady Jr. of Cleveland Free Times writes, “Blood Tea and Red String is a dark stop-motion fairy-tale feature that’s been the private project of California-based artist-costumer-puppeteer-poet-author-'creator extraordinaire' Christiane Cegavske for 13 years. Similar painstaking solo efforts, like Piotr Kamler’s Chronopolis or the collected shorts of Bruce Bickford, dot the history of traditional stop-motion animation where a minute of footage can take a day (or a week) to create. These tend to be singular and inscrutably avant-garde, existing seemingly outside time, space and fads. Watching one is to behold a piece of 'outsider art' laboriously produced in secret by a latter-day hermit under cloistered, near-religious devotion to the gods of 24 frames per second.”
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