With Library 11 in the Summer Library series, Christianna Potter Hannum brings us a meditation on parallels between returning to creative work that has been long-dormant, and happening upon cherished books first read long ago. Both can be a return to and renewal of our earlier (reading) selves.
In 2013 Hannum completed Goodnight Ladies, a film about her grandmother, Nancy Penn Smith Hannum, an equestrian and Master of Fox Hounds in Chester County, Pennsylvania. This grew out of an earlier film project called Keeping Sound which incorporated twelve sequences of animation by artist Emily Hubley, and told the inner story of Christy's childhood dreams about her grandmother. This animation and its thousands of hand-drawn images were eventually not included in Goodnight Ladies but were stored away, and then recently remembered by Christy in a conversation with Street Road about its Library. Christy reflects that artwork put on the back burner, or edited out of a published work and stored away on a shelf somewhere, is not unlike the quiet loss of books, read long ago, then picked up again years later: lost, then found, but having new meanings.
Spending time with the Street Road collection, Christy was drawn to books she was reading during the creative period of working on both Keeping Sound and Goodnight Ladies. Informed by her joy at re-finding the animation story, for her Library at Street Road she has picked out a series of novels and works in poetry that she was reading during that intense period of making: these form a kind of ‘syllabus’ to that now-historic creative self.
She invites visitors to also remember a time or a place in their own journey of creation - or simply an earlier life stage - and to search among the books in our library for a serendipitous syllabus of their own, and to their own pile of books to her installation.
Alongside this participatory invitation, Library 11 presents a new edit by Ray Hubley from the Keeping Sound project: this includes sequences from Goodnight Ladies as well as all 12 of Hubley's animations, never previously shown. Also on show are a selection of original animation cels and hand-drawn storyboards by Hubley.
Through the repeated animation stills, we feel the movement of the hand, not unlike that of the author of a book, writing, writing, writing. Library 11 is the reclaiming of lost art and found books and the marrying of the two.
Christianna Potter Hannum is a filmmaker, a storyteller, and a reader of books. She was born in Unionville, Pennsylvania and studied Art History and Italian at the University of Pennsylvania. She won a national Coro Fellowship in Leadership which took her to New York City where she founded Swim Pictures and produced and directed the films Keeping Sound and Goodnight Ladies, which won the Equus Film Award for Best Documentary and the Eastman Kodak Award for Best Cinematography and has been shown nationwide and internationally. Christy has worked for the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania and numerous museums in the Brandywine Valley. She likes to swim in the pond at her family's farm, and lives in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania with her two children.
Emily Hubley has been making short animated films for almost four decades. Her hand-drawn films explore personal memory and the turbulence of emotional life. Her feature, The Toe Tactic (2009) premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, where her work is in the permanent collection. Recent projects include shorts Faithy, hey (2019) and Brainworm Billy (2018) and Look Where You’re Going! (2020), a 100’ digital mural displayed on Broadway in Manhattan. She has contributed animation to Vessel, Danny Says, Blue Vinyl, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and others. Ms. Hubley is currently developing a multi-screen installation project about her mother, filmmaker Faith Hubley, which includes six 45-minute loops combining 8400 self-portraits with varied sketches and captions from Faith’s journals and stills and clips from her animated films. Emily Hubley received a 2022 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Ray Hubley is a lifelong film editor and educator who lives with his wife in Morningside Heights, New York.