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Artist and Activist Kelly Gallagher Speaks

Nick Kearney, Contributor

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Film artist Kelly Gallagher presented her most recent film “More Dangerous than a Thousand Rioters” at Holman Arts and Media Center Thursday, Feb. 16.

Gallagher, a hands-on experimental animator, activist and professor at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio, produces her films with a variety of hand-crafted animation techniques.

“I’m interested in hand-crafted animation because I think it is an inherently radical aesthetic,” Gallagher said. “I think hand-crafted filmmaking and hand-crafted animation makes labor visible. I am not just an artist, but also a laborer, a worker.”

Gallagher’s most recent art draws attention to the unsung heroes of American history. “More Dangerous than a Thousand Rioters” explores the life of revolutionary hero Lucy Parsons, a black woman who became a powerful voice in the labor movement in Chicago in the late 1800s. Parsons spent her life fighting for the rights of others and helped to found the Industrial Workers of the World.

“I made this short animated-documentary as a celebration for Lucy Parsons, and for those who came before us and fought tirelessly against the ruling class and the rule of capitalism,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher also showed her 2015 film “From Ally to Accomplice,” which describes how abolitionist John Brown recruited, trained and organized slave resistance fighters in the Quaker community of Springdale, Iowa. The town was a way station for the Underground Railroad and was utilized to prepare volunteer fighters for the unsuccessful raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia.

“I was fascinated by the story of John Brown training pacifists from a Quaker community to fight for something greater than themselves,” said Gallagher.

Shawnie Personius, an SNC senior majoring in business and fine arts, said she liked seeing Gallagher’s creative use of collage and video as well as the personal statement she made through her art.

“I enjoyed how she incorporated herself in the art, which made a statement about her passion for social justice,” Personius said. “I was moved by her taking a stand for the things we love and want to preserve.”

Gallagher was heavily influenced by the 1983 film “Born in Flames,” a futuristic fantasy covering a wide range of feminist ideals calling on women to fight back.

Gallagher advises all young aspiring filmmakers to keep making films and using art as a medium to be heard. “The best advice I can give you is to stay at it,” Gallagher said. “Just stay at it because our voices are important.”

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The student news site of Sierra Nevada College
Artist and Activist Kelly Gallagher Speaks