It was just over a year ago that we finished creating “Into the Ovoid: An Ovella” and since then I’ve been entering festivals. A lot of festivals, as long as the submission fees are less than $ 20. Being cheap lands me in lesser tier events, but that turns out to fit well with a whacky, whimsical labor of love like Into the Ovoid by a filmmaker who has no interest in ‘making it’ in the film world! 

I told you in May about getting accepted at Animfest 2016 and Flying Frame Independent Film Festival . It turns out the film generated intense discussion at Flying Frame, both the night of the screening and the next day! Sandra Thomas, one of the festival directors, kindly shared with me audience interpretations that ranged from spiritual to aspirational, all the way to a celebration of interracial marriage! 

Needless to say, it was gratifying to think of our little film out there in the world touching the lives of strangers, and I am proud to have received one of only three awards given: an Honorable Mention, the festival directors’ choice. 

Meanwhile, the film has gone on to being accepted at the following additional festivals:

The last film festival I entered will be sending out judging status notifications around April 30, 2017. After that I hope to post the film online without the restriction of a password. 

I’m not sure when, if ever, I will attempt Phase 3 of the “Into the Ovoid” project; that’s the part where I create an interactive online experience for users to move and turn virtual Pysanky around on the screen at their own pace. If anyone has any ideas for how to make something like that happen at not too great expense, I’m all ears.

Other adventures

While we were working on the film in 2015, I wondered what unexpected connections and opportunities might arise from having the film out there in the festival circuit. Besides a showing and Q&A at a retirement community in April 2016, nothing had come up. Then in September, a work colleague from the 1990s found me on LinkedIn . He was intrigued by the film’s trailer , and then asked, after seeing the whole film on vimeo, whether I would be willing to give a guest presentation at the Texas STEAM Summit in Houston, Texas. After he explained what STEAM is, I said, “yes, absolutely!” 

STEAM stands for science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics; this is a movement to include the arts in traditional curricula that focus on STEM. The summit is designed for independent and public school teachers and is hosted by The Village School in collaboration with MIT. I will be presenting  “Into the Ovoid” Patterns in Motion on Saturday, January 14, 12:45 – 2:30 pm My presentation slides (with Notes) are  here .

Since leaving school I haven’t thought much about pre-college education, except maybe being glad I got my early education in the 1960s and 70s. I might have railed against the current lamentable lack of civics training, or felt lucky not to be caught up in the pressures of frequent standardized testing, but that’s about it. In the past month, though, I have been thinking a lot about what young people need to learn to prepare for a future of gainful employment in a world where automation will eliminate all but the most non-routine and cognitively intense jobs. And how do activities in the arts prepare students for technical jobs that don’t yet exist?

I got lucky back in the 80s, being able to catch a wave of new high tech jobs on just the strength of some writing skills honed in the humanities during graduate school and a 6-month Certificate in Electronics. I was able to grow into my expertise on the job. By the late 1990s I would have had to have a computer science related degree to get anywhere near the profession I was in.

So as I prepared my STEAM presentation over the past few weeks, I asked myself what happens in making Pysanky and making a film that intersects with STEM. What about a Pysanka or animating a Pysanka on film, can inspire or facilitate learning in science and math? 

The main points of my presentation reflect the times we live in:

  • An art project can be a gateway to explorations in STEM disciplines. 
  • Art can express resistance and dissent, while STEM disciplines are easily co-opted by authoritarianism. 
  • Success in the STEM disciplines requires the same kinds of creativity, imagination, and focus that is integral to making art. 
  • Elevating the arts as a critical factor in job readiness could open technical learning and careers to more girls and women. 

Meanwhile, Spring is still a ways off, but I’ll be starting up with making Pysanky again very soon. Ideas have been piling up and it’ll be great to try them all out.

Until next time,