LAIKA makes beautiful, handcrafted stop-motion animated films rife with personality and panache (if you need a refresher on their CV, check out this exclusive Thanksgiving short they made with all their characters). And now, the studio will help future animators and creators continue their journey on producing their own, personal material. LAIKA will set up a stop-motion animation studio at Bowie State University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Maryland. This studio will help the university’s animation curriculum and give students a more direct path into industry work.
LAIKA’s head of production Arianne Sutner said this of the partnership:
“Laika is thrilled to be partnering with as prestigious an institution as Bowie State University. At its heart, Laika is a community of artists, craftspeople and scientists committed to expanding the technological capabilities of our animation medium in order to tell everyone’s stories with boldness, compassion and excellence. Helping BSU students to express their experience, their artistry and their potential through the stop motion art form speaks to our creative and corporate mandate. We’re so excited to explore their talents and to provide mentorship and tools that will enlarge the scope of their filmmaking vision.”
This move to fund and set up a stop-motion animation studio comes as an expansion of LAIKA and Bowie State‘s original partnership, which involved Bowie State students earning internships with LAIKA, and an expansion in funding for Bowie State’s green screen studio. The university’s Animation & Motion Graphics concentration is a part of their larger visual communication and digital media arts program. Tewodross Melchishua Williams, chair of Bowie State‘s Department of Fine & Performing Arts, said this of their continued, expanded partnership with LAIKA:
“This is a great opportunity for students to learn valuable skills that will carry them into the professional world of animation. There are a lot of storytelling and narrative elements that have yet to be brought to life via stop-motion animation, especially in the arena of children’s programming. We are looking at this partnership to be an internship and career pipeline that can help diversify the animation industry, which has been a traditionally underrepresented sector when it comes to the voices of people of color, women, LGBTQ and other communities.”
If you’re a college student, aspiring animator, and member of a traditionally underrepresented group looking for a space to learn your craft, it looks like Bowie State University just shot to the top of your list.