100 Creatives 2013: Kelly Sears Animator & Filmmaker

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Animator and filmmaker Kelly Sears collects books, films, castoff images and turns them into collage animations, complete with "speculative histories."

"They teeter somewhere between wild fiction and documentary film making... at some point you're actually getting a documentary in history at other points you are getting an absurd tale," says the former East Coaster who got her B.A. in experimental film making from Hampshire College in Massachusetts, an M.F.A. from the University of California in San Diego and after five more years, moved to Houston to attend a Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts in 2009.

She ended up staying in Houston after being offered a residency from the Galveston Artist Residency which supports artists by providing a studio space for them to show their art and time to focus on their craft.

What she does:

According to Sears' website: "Most of her work includes dated and cast off images of American history. She likes to rework these popular media artifacts and create new readings of the nation's past and forge connections with contemporary history. Her work is rooted in cinematic practices, such as found footage films, essay films, and genre studies." And she does all her own work. "I write them, direct them, animate them and work on the sound design for them."

She's had showings the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, Anthology Film Archives, the Lone Star Film Festival and the uber popular Sundance Film Festival and American Film Institute Festival, as well as in galleries and film festivals abroad.

When she's not working on her own projects she's an adjunct professor at the University of Houston. Her courses have included experimental animation, appropriated cinema and collaborative practices classes. This past fall she recently taught a class, Collaboration Among the Arts, along with fellow professor Gabriel Martinez at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center.

What she likes about what she does: "It keeps me out of trouble. Animation is a wonderfully long process and I find it very relaxing to work frame by frame and for me I really like working with the animations I work with."

What inspires her Images inspire her.

"I really like looking at an image and being inspired to tell a different kind of story with it and kind of figuring out of how I would do that with a narrative and how I would do that visually and it's kind of like problem solving to me. Like a really great geometry problem and I find it really satisfying to figure out a way to recast these images into new stories."

She says also that other underground filmmakers such as Craig Baldwin and Johan Grimoprez have inspired her to continue to do what she does.

If not this, then what: Sears laughs a little. She says she's never really thought of it, but in a different life she says she could see herself giving people exquisitely intricate haircuts.

If not here, then where: "I loved LA. LA was a very hard city to leave and I do think about California a lot. A quality of life for me is being in a place where I can make work a lot and I can make a lot of work in Houston. I think Houston is really unique... it gives me so many opportunities and I'd love to be in a city that had as many opportunities, to be apart of such a great art scene. I haven't really thought of a plan B yet, but right now Houston's been pretty amazing and extraordinarily generous and the folks here are some of the nicest I've met in the whole country so being in Houston is pretty wonderful."

What's next: She's been spending a lot of time at library sales and second hand bookstores collecting books for a film she's working on called Instructional Photography. She has also been working on a screenplay for a film that revolves around a filmmaker that goes missing in action.

Besides that she says she just wants to continue to work on projects and make more films.

More Creatives for 2013 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page). Colton Berry, Bayou City Theatrics' artistic director jhon r. stronks,dance-maker Joe Grisaffi, actor, director, writer, cinematographer Jordan "Monster Mac" McMahon, artist, designer

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