St. Mary's Projects in Studio Art:

Madeleine Boies / SMP 2018

Emotions Made Physical: A Hand Drawn Animation

 Sometimes our emotional state is immediately apparent, revealed to others by the expressions on our face.  Other times our emotions are invisible to the people around us despite the intense reactions we feel from within. The first charcoal animation I created for my senior project explored how emotions are communicated through expressionistic faces, but for my work this semester, I became intrigued with physical reactions to intense emotions. When I emotionally experience feelings of deep sadness or love in particular, I am hit a sensation like something is physically squeezing my heart. My ultimate goal is to find ways to make the invisible visible, to give form to something that is only felt.

To do this, I realized I had to take emotion out of the recognizable context of the face and instead use symbolic objects and their distinct movements to express emotions in my charcoal animation. I represent love through a ribbon—it flutters down the page in soft, gentle motions, drawn in a light way to emphasize its airiness. It settles around an anatomical heart in a caressing manner before dancing away again. Conversely, sadness is represented by a thick, heavy liquid that oozes down the page, and cages the heart in a painful squeeze before leaving in a harsh trail. I use an anatomical heart because of its existing association with emotion. It beats consistently until its interactions with the emotions, causing it to stutter in its rhythm and change speed.