Karen Aqua, Animation Artist & Filmmaker, 1954-2011

“Children across the country get up and dance next to their cereal bowls when Sesame Street airs Karen Aqua’s animated segments. It would be hard to stay still as bejeweled Mardi Gras figures jive across the small screen, flashing numbers at the audience, accompanied by…Revolutionary Snake Ensemble—a band that’s led (off-screen) by her saxophone-tooting husband, Ken Field.Barbara Ensor, New York Magazine

Independent animator Karen Aqua died peacefully May 31, 2011 following a 10 year battle with cancer. Despite the monumental challenge facing her, Karen finished her final film ‘Taxonomy’, where it premiered at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art. In addition, Karen was named a 2011 Fellow in Film & Video by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, fittingly. Learn more about Karen and her work here.

I had the wonderfully good fortune of sharing a train out of Boston with Karen Aqua (and a bunch of Boston-based animation folks) many years ago. That trip was one of my first fun-filled trips to New York City as a professional animator (Broadcast Arts). We were all heading off to attend a studio opening party. On the way, I met bunch of fabled folks in the East Coast animation scene, including Karen Aqua.

Karen was a joy, sharing wonderful insights on the industry, & animation, and being an artist while eking a living from doing what she loved, and in sharing, inspired a bunch of us newbies as well.  She eventually introduced me to Ralph Bakshi that evening, packed as he was into a stairwell amongst a horde of fans hanging on every one of his words. We all had a great time. So glad to have shared a seat with her. So sorry to know she’s gone.

She will be so missed.

(by way of Micheal Sporn Animation)

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