An end-of-the-season treeplanter by Smithers artist Britt Sanborn.

An end-of-the-season treeplanter by Smithers artist Britt Sanborn.

Finding art in animation

Britt Sanborn's show at the Smithers Art Gallery shows off the animation style.

Think “animation” and you might picture the latest 3D blockbuster, classic Disney movie, or Saturday cartoons.

A fine-art gallery is likely not the first thing that pops into your mind.

“When you typically think of an artist, usually you think painting, water colour, sculpture, pottery, installations,” says Smithers artist Britt Sanborn.

“Nobody typically thinks of animators as artists.”

With (In)animate, her first-ever show at the Smithers Art Gallery, Sanborn hopes to shift that point of view.

“It’s amazing how talented they are. The amount of time you have to put into studying the human body, for instance, is amazing.”

That’s something Sanborn knows first-hand.

A year ago, Sanborn was finishing a two-year program in classical animation at Capilano University in North Vancouver.

“You spend about ten hours a week drawing people in the nude—quite a lot,” she said, laughing.

And it’s not just the outside that counts.

“Every character needs a solid skeletal structure underneath,” Sanborn said, adding that she also had to study muscle movements from anatomy books to understand how bodies move in 3D space.

(In)animate presents a number of Sanborn’s character designs, animations and life drawings.

One series of larger-than-life characters came out from one of Sanborn’s very down-to-earth jobs—treeplanting.

“In the beginning of the season, everybody’s clean—they have new haircuts, they have their new gear,” she said. “But at the end of the year you look like you’ve been through a war. It’s horrible.”

Sanborn said her series of treeplanter characters shows that all-too-real mutation to ripped boots, missing socks, facial hair and bad posture.

Another theme in (In)animate is Sanborn’s love of ugly mermaids. Angela the Mermaid is one of two children’s books that Sanborn has illustrated and will have on hand at the show. The other is Broccoli Makes You Run Faster.

While her exhibition is up, Sanborn will work with Muheim Elementary School students to create a collective comic book.

Sanborn has considered a career a s a high school art teacher, and already knows the message she would like to instil in students.

“If you’re a student and you’re really interested in art, you can combine that love of art with a job,” she said, adding that animation is a great example. “I was never told that.”

(In)Animate will be showing at the Smithers Art Gallery until Nov. 23.