Professor, Film, Video, New Media, and Animation (1989). BFA, 1983, Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Screenings: Film Forum, NY; Cinefamily, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, NY; Whitney Biennial, NY; Boston Art Museum; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus; Houston Fine Arts Museum; Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago. Film Festivals: Tribeca, NY; Annecy International Animated Film Festival, France; Zagreb Film Festival, Croatia; Festiwal Animator, Puznam Poland (1st Prize); Cork Film Festival, Ireland; Istanbul, Luxembourg City Film Festival; Fantoche International Animation Film Festival, Switzerland; Animatou, Geneva; Holland Animation Film Festival, Utrecht; Melboune International Animation Festival, Australia. Awards: John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship; Rockefeller Media Arts Fellowship; Bush Foundation Fellowship; Illinois Arts Council; NEA Regional fellowships; Creative Capital Film Grant.
Experience at SAIC
SAIC has been a great place for me to teach, for more than 20 years now. Great students, and it is great to have faculty who are all making work and exhibiting. It makes it real.
In my work I am interested in showing both the troubles and the hopes of ordinary people as they try to negotiate love and belonging in their lives. I am particularly interested in how these emotional journeys are portrayed in people who are no longer sought after.
In all of my work, I am interested in personal positions of power in the family, where I feel most social structures originate.
I consider my work a mixture of social realism and theatrical fiction. I like to combine method acting, spoken text, found sound, and diary forms into one work. I create animated films, performance works, and music. I hope that seeing my work is like uncovering a crime scene, looking for traces of guilt, and heroes as well. It is tampered evidence, but I still hope that you will trust me as I take you on an unlikely theory. We will find out who done it.
Favorite artists and thinkers of mine are Dennis Potter, John Cassavettes, Yuri Norstien, John Whales, Joe Frank, Todd Haines, Ingmar Bergman, Ellis Peters, R.D Lainge, Joanie Motchell, Chrissie Hyne, Julienne Barnes, and Jane Campion.
I was born and raised in the wooded hills of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, along with 10 siblings, a product of my British mother, Beryl, and my Irish-American father, Lawrence, who met in England during WWII. I moved to Chicago in 1990 to teach at SAIC, and I am father to Carmen and Silvia Abelson.
I have been creating experimental film and theater for 30 years. I have shown my work in festivals, theaters, and museums worldwide, including Zagreb World Festival of Animation; Ann Arbor Film Festival; Ottawa Animation Festival; Guggenheim Museum; Boston Museum; Tribeca Film Festival; Annecy, Holland; Haifa Film Festival, Chicago International; Vancouver International; Denver Starz; and New York's Film Forum in December. Consuming Spirits began production in earnest in 1999 after receiving funding by a fellowship from The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and then equal funding came in the next year from Artist The Rockefeller Foundation Film Fellowship. Just as Consuming Spirits is finally finished, I received a Creative Capital Grant to start work on another experimental feature, The Orbit of Minor Satellites.
Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.