We are excited to announce the first-ever ArtYard Live Animation Festival, a weekend of unique cinematic experiences blending live performances and animated films held Sept. 22 to 24 at ArtYard’s McDonnell Theater.

Curated by Richard Herskowitz, the Live Animation Festival features performances by animators Laura Heit, Melissa Ferrari, Stacey Steers, and Miwa Matreyek – four talented artists whose work emerges at the intersection of visual and performance art, installation, and film.

“The Live Animation Festival is not something that can be contained on a screen. It has to be experienced live,” Herskowitz said. “There is something wondrous about experiencing animated films merged with live performance, whether it’s an artist creating visions before your eyes with an antique ‘magic lantern’ or another artist shadow dancing inside her animated landscapes.”

The Live Animation Festival begins with a performance of Laura Heit’s Matchbox Show on Friday, Sept. 22. Laura performs teeny tiny cabaret-inspired puppet shows inside matchboxes that will be simultaneously projected on ArtYard’s two-story filmscreen, making the tiny details of her uncanny micro plays larger than life.

The afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 23 focuses on the world of early cinema through two live artist presentations. First, Melissa Ferrari presents her mesmeric magic lantern performance, Relict: A Phantasmagoria, an experimental documentary examining the zeitgeist of pseudoscience, fake news, and religion. Second, Stacey Steers presents a trio of her short films composed from thousands of collages placing silent film actresses in dreamlike settings — Phantom Canyon, Night Hunter, and As Evening Falls.

Miwa Matreyek takes to the McDonnell Theater stage on Saturday evening to present her most recent performances Infinitely Yours and This World Made Itself. Matreyek — who has performed worldwide, including at the Tate, MoMA, Lincoln Center, and the Exploratorium — uses computer-generated animation mixed with live performance in silhouette to create her own form of storytelling that has intrigued audiences of every age.

The festival culminates with a panel discussion with all the artists moderated by Herskowitz on the afternoon of Sunday, September 24.

Visitors can also experience Edge of Alchemy, an exhibition featuring Steers’ collages and sculptures from her latest film of the same name. A display of collages used in the animated film will be accompanied by three of Steers’ sculptures based on scientific instruments from the 18th and 19th centuries. Each instrument contains a screen that loops the film, heightening the precarious, trapped conditions of her silent film heroines. The exhibition is on view From Aug. 1 through Sept. 30 in ArtYard’s Laboratory Gallery.

Tickets and passes

The ideal way to experience ArtYard’s Live Animation Festival is with a full festival pass, which provides access to all events and an exclusive opening reception. The full pass is $45.

Individual tickets to performances are also available.

Where to Purchase

  • ONLINE through our Eventbrite 
  • IN PERSON at ArtYard’s Box Office located inside the lobby at 13 Front Street, Frenchtown. Hours are 11 AM to 5 PM Wednesday through Sunday and until 7 PM on Late Night Thursday.


Please contact ArtYard’s Box Office during gallery hours at 908-996-5018 or email [email protected].