collections update: Karen Aqua

January 25th, 2012

Karen Aqua (1954-2011) started working in animation at the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1970s, and spent much of her career based in Somerville making short films exploring the themes of ritual, journeys, transformation, and the human spirit, as well as regularly contributing animated segments to Sesame Street.  In addition, she taught at a number of local universities, and worked with elementary schools and community groups around New England and beyond teaching animation to children. 

still image from HEAVENLY BODIES

Upon her death from ovarion cancer in 2011, she left a large legacy of award-winning animated films.  This collection, consisting of over 300 film and video items, arrived at the Harvard Film Archive in 2011 and we’ve been working to process the collection since late last year.  For the film, this involves first testing each film for acid deterioration, next inspecting each reel on the film bench and rehousing into archival cans, sending the cans to our climate controlled storage facility, and finally cataloging each item in our local database as well as creating records for Harvard’s online public access database.  We hope to have the collection fully processed by the end of February, with the finding aid appearing in OASIS not long after.  Stay tuned!

an animation test reel from VIS-A-VIS, on the bench ready to be inspected

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