Film as fine art
- Jeff Spiegel
- Estacada News - News
Hyde is the 2011 recipient of a $25,000 Princess Grace Award
Art means different things to different people, but to Estacada's Emily Hyde, it means taking a common medium (film) in an uncommon direction.
Hyde, who graduated from Estacada High School in 2000 as the salutatorian, spent a few years working in both Estacada and Portland before enrolling at the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) in the fall of 2007.
Her art, however, began to develop well before that.
Hyde grew up in Eagle Creek and admits to being greatly influenced by life in the country, which she now describes as a longing to return.
Part of that longing comes from the relationships she developed in Estacada, including one she developed with high school art teacher Janice Packard.
'Janice is a profound human being who had a great impact on my life,' Hyde said.
While her relationship with Packard grew, Hyde's interest in art continued to flourish. Packard, herself an alumnus of PNCA, introduced and encouraged Hyde to consider PNCA for her future studies.
'She's a once-in-a-lifetime student,' Packard said. 'Her art is the purest distillation of her thoughts and she's a great humanitarian who overflows with passion.'
After graduation, Hyde began working while taking classes part-time at Mt. Hood Community College in order to explore her options within art.
'That time allowed me to develop my vision independently,' Hyde said. 'It actually helped me receive a full scholarship to PNCA, which allowed me to devote my full attention to school.'
That award, the Dorothy Lemelson Scholarship, is awarded to just one student at PNCA every year and includes living expenses.
So in 2007, Hyde moved into Portland and became a full-time student with the intention of studying printmaking. That changed, however, when Hyde enrolled in an intermedia class with teacher Rose Bond, who quickly recognized her potential.
'The first piece that she did in my class was a little strip with 12 frames that you stick in an old machine,' she said. 'While most people just did one in class, Emily took hers home and brought it back the next week, and I had never seen a more intricately done strip before.
'The movement on it was absolutely magical, and I don't know how someone does that in 12 frames - it was just different.'
After finishing the class, Hyde switched her major to intermedia, which PNCA describes as encouraging students to 'examine combined media and hybrid art-making strategies with a conceptual foundation.'
In her final year at PNCA, Hyde has begun working on her senior thesis project, a 60-minute film that mixes animation and live footage.
Then she got the break of a lifetime.
Bond, who was herself a Princess Grace Award winner in 1989, nominated Hyde for a 2011 Princess Grace Film Undergraduate to support the completion of her thesis.
And then she won.
The Princess Grace Awards is a national program dedicated to identifying and assisting emerging theater, dance, and film artists. The awards continue the legacy of Princess Grace (Kelly) of Monaco, who anonymously helped emerging artists pursue their artistic goals during her lifetime. The number of students awarded each year can vary, but this year Hyde was one of 21 students chosen from institutions such as Columbia University, California Institute of the Arts, Julliard and others.
'To be nominated alone is already a great honor,' Hyde said. 'But to be selected as a recipient by a panel of distinguished individuals in the arts has left me profoundly moved. As an artist, one is constantly trying to validate their position in the world. At a time when the arts are being cut haphazardly from schools, a foundation such as this becomes a remarkable entity for sustaining genuine creativity in the world.'
Typically film grants have ranged from $5,000 to $25,000.
To Hyde's surprise and gratitude, she received a grant of $25,000.
'My proposal was based on what it would cost for the ideal situation and because of the foundation's incredible generosity I am able to do what seemed impossible before,' she said.
With the funding, Hyde is now able to film in the locations she wants, she's able to rent the equipment she needs, and create the costumes and props to perfectly execute her thesis.
The project itself is an exploration of the theme of pity and transformation through pity, which she expects will take about six months.
'My process is slow and methodical. As a child, I'd often spend several years working on a single drawing,' Hyde said. 'Instead of experimenting on set, though, I am going in with more of an awareness of what I will do than in the past.'
While the film is a mix of animation and live footage, it won't be anything like mainstream films. The video won't include any dialogue, and the characters are often featured nude to avoid any historical or cultural context.
'It's going to be in the realm of fine art,' said Bond, who is mentoring Hyde throughout her thesis. 'It surprises people in America because most of the movie and film work we see is geared toward entertainment, while the fine art application of video is surprising.
'If you walked into an art museum and saw nudity, you wouldn't be surprised,' she said.
With the absence of dialogue, the film does feature a soundtrack over scenes featuring Hyde and her partner and collaborator, Daniel Dubiel, in addition to hand-drawn animations.
'I've seen parts of it and it is breathtaking and thought-provoking,' Packard said. 'This is going to be hugely successful, and while she seems shy, she is absolutely gutsy in the risks she takes with her art.'
For Bond, the expectations are similarly high.
'I am expecting greatness,' she said. 'I would not have nominated her if I didn't expect that, but I also don't want to put pressure on her either.
'At some point you just let it all out and say that she's the real deal, and I really think she'll have a lifetime in the arts,' she said.
It's an interesting point of view from Bond especially, who describes the future of the art industry as one that will embrace the type of work that Hyde is doing.
'People are treating these pieces like paintings and selling them as collective works to collectors, so it's really an exciting place to be,' she said.
While Hyde is a bit more modest about where the future may take her, the one thing she is sure about is the positive impact her time in Estacada has had on her as an artist.
'Having grown up in a small town in the countryside, there is a magical feeling of both intimacy and immensity. I don't think we can really anticipate or know the power the environment we live in has on us and our well being,' Hyde said. 'Because I grew up in the country and was more comfortable in an intimate community with the land and the animals, I think it was incredibly nurturing and important for the soul.'