The Art Academy
DVDs are available online (use the "buy now" button below to purchase). You can also buy them in Memphis at the Brooks Museum and Burke's Books. When you shop local, a portion of the proceeds will support this nonprofit museum and independent bookstore.
Read more about The Art Academy in Memphis Magazine. Listen to interviews about the film with director Joann Self Selvidge on WKNO's Checking on the Arts in April (about the film and premiere) and September (about the Process & Preview exhibit).
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The Art Academy follows the improbable story of a tiny school that flourished and adapted over seven decades to become what it is today - the Memphis College of Art.
Think of it as the little art school that could. In its original incarnation, the Memphis Academy of Arts was born out of a great schism between the old Victorian style of art education and the new Modernism of the 1930s. “It was a revolution,” as former student Carroll Cloar put it.
From Mildred Hudson’s leadership during the war, to Ted Rust’s golden age, to Jeff Nesin’s expansion, the school has reinvented itself over and over again. The thread that connects the past to the present is a familial culture that embraces “the odd people out” and values a nurturing relationship between teacher and student.
Probably best known for its legendary faculty and iconic architecture, MCA has some surprises up its historical sleeve – masquerade balls, celebrity visits, indoor waterfalls, even a kidnapping. The Art Academy teases these stories out for audiences using archival footage, old and new interviews, narrative animations, and an original soundtrack by Steve Selvidge and Paul Taylor.
As appropriate for a film about an art school, the documentary features fabulous art direction by recent grad Ryan McGahan. Producer/director Joann Self Selvidge insisted on hiring MCA alumni and students to support McGahan, and the team included Matt Pierson (illustration), Kong Wee Pang (illustration), Michael Shaw (storyboards and animation), Ashley Holmes (animation), Lauren Rae Holtermann (illustration), and Dominique Pere (illustration). Thanks to sponsor archer>malmo, a large portion of the animation was developed pro bono.
In order to reach a wider audience, we took an excerpt from the film - the infamous kidnapping scene - and created a short film called Nude Photos! that screened at the Seattle International Film Fest in May 2013. Check it out here:
Another fundraiser for the project was our Process & Preview Exhibit at Marshall Arts in October 2012. This exhibit featured five 20-foot projections of animations from the DVD, plus an exhibit of sketches, prints, and original illustrations that revealed how the art direction was developed for the film. Special thanks to film score composer Paul Taylor for playing live at the event, and to sponsors Another Roadside Attraction, Pinkney & Janice Herbert, and Memphis College of Art for making this event possible.
Two screenings at the Brooks Museum in August 2012 were well attended, and ten members of the crew were on hand to answer questions during a lively Q&A.
The film's premiere screening at Studio on the Square on May 2, 2012 was a success. The first show was sold out, and the audience stayed afterwards for a great Q & A session with producer/director Joann Self Selvidge and a dozen members of the post-production crew. The second show was also packed, and there was a second Q & A that lasted til past midnight!
Special thanks to all who attended the premiere and exhibition of illustrations by Matt Pierson that were created for the film. Congratulations to the bidders who won these fabulous works of art!