Friday, September 4, 2015

The making of a giant crankie!

Well it's happened… an enormous shadow puppet crankie (or moving panorama). This is one of the biggest and most engaging projects I have done for a while. Last year when Cortina productions, a film company that makes historical films for museums, approached me about doing this, I was pretty excited. 

Boston Harbor

The film is about a traveling story teller, who uses a crankie to tell the story of the American revolution through 6 different people who lived through it. (among them, a housewife, a native american man, and an african american man). These stories are taken from actual oral histories of people who lived at the time. It was an inspiring and educational experience working with producer, Brent Feito and a curator, Katherine Gruber of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation

Cutting out a sample scene

I got to spend months researching, story boarding, making sample scenes, and finally making the final piece. The images are based on artwork and aesthetics of the period. I worked closely with curator and historian Katherine Gruber to research artwork and materials of the time period. 
 In order to make the deadline friend and colleague, Caleb Stine,  worked full time hand cutting paper and glueing down scenes with me for over a month. Some other folks who lent a hand during construction were Annie Howe, Lisa Krause, Christine Sajecki, and Eamon Espey. We ended up with three scrolls, some of which are over eighty feet long. 
Gluing down a scene with Caleb Stine

 It was especially moving to be working on this piece about these questions of freedom and human rights as the riots broke out in Baltimore this year. It felt all the more meaningful and powerful to be revisiting these questions in my work.

Producer, Brent Feito

After the crankie was done, I finally arrived in Virginia, where they had been filming all the stories I had illustrated on the crankie in live action. Michael Lamason and Valeska Populoh of Baltimore's Black Cherry Puppet Theater came to Virginia where we performed the crankie in period dress for the film. 

Puppeteering during the film shoot with Michael Lamason and Valeska Populoh

This has been an exciting and challenging project. The rough cut looks great and I can't wait to see the the final edit of the film. In the meantime there is an exhibit of the making of the film on display at the American Revolution Museum at Yorktown.

The film will be edited and available to the public in 2016. More to come!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Crankie Sisterhood

Excited to receive the April issue of fROOTS magazine in the mail yesterday morning! If you like crankies or moving panoramas, you will love Pamela Wynn Anderson's article on "the scrolling picture Sisterhood."

What a thrill to read this lovely piece about these wonderful women artists whom I adore and inspire me so much. (Anna Roberts Gevalt, Sue Truman, Elizabeth Laprelle, Dejah Leger, Clare Dolan, and Pamela Wyn Shannon).

Pamela speaks about creativity, imagination, and inspiration reminding me that, as creative people, we are some of the lucky ones. Excited to see where we all go from here.

Photos posted with consent of Ian Anderson (editor of fROOTS magazine) 

Friday, April 3, 2015


I spent much of this winter designing the puppets for a shadow puppet play by Cecilia Cackley of Wit's End Puppets in Washington D.C. Saudade is about living as an american immigrant and longing for home. 

The screen for Saudade is crankie or moving panorama surrounded by 3 screens.
Puppet design

Image for paper cut on the crankie

I designed 60 shadow puppets for this piece.

“Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.”
― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Yo no soy mexicano. Yo no soy gringo. Yo no soy chicano. No soy gringo en USA y mexicano en Mexico. Soy chicano en todas partes. No tengo que asimilarme a nada. Tengo mi propia historia.”
― Carlos Fuentes
— at Atlas Performing Arts Center.

More puppets


Shadow puppets

Clearwater Crankie

Had a great time performing "I Don't Feel Dead Yet" with Burke Sampson and Paul Richardson at Andrea Clearwater's music salon in Philadelphia this past weekend.

Katherine Fahey @ Andrea Clearfield March Salon 3-29-15
Photos by John Hayes 

Friday, April 18, 2014


After months of preparation I was happy to premier a new shadow puppet piece, Crow Song River, for a sold out crowd at the first Baltimore crankie festival in Baltimore this week! 

What is a crankie? A crankie or moving panorama is an illustrated scroll presented in s box. A roll of paper  or fabric is wound around two posts, which is then pulled across the front, much like film in an old camera.

The festival was organized at the Creative Alliance by Anna Roberts Gevalt and Elizabeth Laprelle, good friends, amazing musicians, and crankie makers extraordinaire.  It was a magical evening of amazing story telling, art, and music. We performed along-side great artists Christopher Owen, Dave Huber, Kenny Johnston, Clarissa gregory, Erik Spangler, Matt Muirhead, McKenzie Elizabeth Ditter, Brett Ratliff, John Haywood, Alex Fine, and students of the BALTIMORE NATIVE AMERICAN CENTER led by ASHLEY MINNER.

I was moved to be among such dedicated artists, creating a beautiful evening of soul sustaining creative The students of the BALTIMORE NATIVE AMERICAN CENTER led by ASHLEY MINNER, Chris Owen's live crankie painting performance, Ana and Elizabeth's collaboration with sound artist Eric Spangler, and all of the amazing music, including Anna and ELizabeth, Beatboxer Kenny the Bowlegged Gorlilla, Singer-songwriter, Dave HUber, and two of east kentucky's finest banjo pickers BRETT RATLIFF &

Thanks to everyone who turned out for this beautiful event!

Flat footing behind the screen to the music of Brett Ratliff and John Haywood

Christopher Owen and Anna Robert Gevalt

From Kaweah (Crow Song River) by Katherine Fahey


Christopher Owen and Tom Haller backstage

Matt Muirhead and McKenzie Ditter's crankie

From Kaweah (Crow Song River) by Katherine Fahey

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Crow River Song (Kaweah)


Sometimes a story comes before you create something and sometimes it races past you and you pull it back in like a snake, by its tail. This new piece was the latter. I started by creating images, letting it evolve in an organic way. It was more of a challenge to trust in the creative process, but it came together so naturally and ended up being a more meaningful and creative piece in the end.

This shadow puppet piece makes use of overhead projectors with crankies around them, so that scrolls of paper cuts move across vertically and horizontally, in combination with shadow puppets and live actors in silhouette.

Kaweah or Crow River Song ended up being the story of a girl who is isolated. She is afraid to leave her home until she is lured out of her safe space by the beauty outside her window. She encounters some challenges on the way that drive her to strive harder and lead to an unexpected transformation.
This collaboration between myself, dancer Clarissa Gregory, and singer-songwriter Dave Huber is journey of what life can hold for all of us if we trust, stay open, and take a chance.

We performed it for the first time Saturday April 12th at the first annual Baltimore Crankie Festival at the Creative Alliance to a wonderful sold out crowd.

Fireflies in a cathedral of trees

David Huber, working on the music 

Rehearsing with Rebekah Kirkman and Paul Richardson

Working on Clarissa's wings

Friday, March 28, 2014

Atlanta Film Festival Sunday! Baltimore Free Farm tonight!

Congrats crew! Our video Fish was selected for an Oscar-Qualifying festival! I think the puffer fish really has a chance at best actor. Thanks to everyone who helped make this little video! Puppet shorts will be 5-6:15PM Sunday March 29th 7 Stages Theatre, Main Stage (1105 Euclid Ave NE Atlanta, GA 30307) 

I will be at The Baltimore Freefarm tonight singing along with my home spun shadow puppet ‘crankies’. I will be performing alongside the amazing Story Eaters!

For the last five months Catherine and Emile, the two artists behind Story-Eaters, have been traveling across the country collecting stories and developing shows that reflect the different experience of people living in the USA. They are creating new site-specific shows in each place they land. Visit for videos and more info.

 Doors 7:30 Show 8pm Sliding scale admission $5-10.
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