Pencils and Passion: A Student Art Exhibition

May 11, 2023–October 1, 2023
Lower Lobby Gallery

The Walt Disney Family Museum is proud to present Pencils and Passion: A Student Art Exhibition—a celebration of the museum’s educational initiatives and the achievements of its students. Pencils and Passion is the 37th original exhibition produced by the museum. It highlights both past and current student artwork, recognizes the accomplishments of its alumni, and chronicles the development of The Walt Disney Family Museum Animation Academy.

This special exhibition will present student-created traditional and digital artworks, including animated short
films, which have been produced over the past decade at both The Walt Disney Family Museum and on location at partner schools and organizations. With 121 artists and over 280 works featured, the wide range of traditional artwork media on view will include watercolor, acrylic, and oil paintings, pastels, charcoal, ink, clay, ceramic, needle felting, and paper art. Multi-media work produced as part of the student’s creative process will also be showcased, such as storyboards, comics, maquettes, sculptures, character designs, concept art, background designs, costume designs, and film scripts.

Since opening in 2009, The Walt Disney Family Museum has been dedicated to the mission of the museum’s co- founders, Diane Disney Miller and Walter Miller, to inspire and support future generations of artists, animators, and storytellers. Guided by Walt Disney’s legacy of fostering self-growth and innovation, the museum continues to provide comprehensive animation training to students from many locations and backgrounds, with a variety of interests and career goals.

“A decade ago, the museum committed itself to offering focused and engaging educational opportunities based on the art of animation. Classes and workshops are available to students of all ages, with an emphasis on serving students from marginalized and under-resourced communities,” says Kirsten Komoroske, Executive Director of The Walt Disney Family Museum. “We are honored to celebrate our students’ work in this exhibition. I am profoundly moved by the impact that the artists who have studied at the museum have already had on the animation industry, and I look forward to following our students’ progress for many years to come.”

The Walt Disney Family Museum’s Education Department has continued to grow and expand its reach over the past decade. The School and Outreach Department offers both virtual and in-person School Experiences that take students on a journey through Walt Disney’s life, incorporating interpretive workshops that explore his story and innovations more deeply. Beyond the museum’s walls, the team also visits elementary, middle, and high schools throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, teaching the key principles of story, character design, and animation.

The museum’s Studio Department, which started with weekend workshops, has grown substantially, offering year-long courses, summer intensive programs, and distance learning initiatives with New Hampton School in New Hampshire. In 2021, the museum expanded its Studio programming to include the Animation Academy Certificate Program—a 6-hour per week intensive, in-person animation course for high school students at Eastside College Preparatory School in East Palo Alto, California. The Studio team further broadened its reach this year by partnering with EPACENTER, a new creative youth development organization also in East Palo Alto, which allows more students in the community to explore creative career paths.

Pencils and Passion celebrates the progress and success of the museum’s Education Department, led by Director of Education, Travis Lacina, and Studio Manager, Anita Meza, through the work and talents of their students.

“What I love about our students’ projects is that they pull from many forms of inspiration, whether it be a film, personal experience, or dreams, and then mix those all together through their own unique filter and pour themselves out on the page using various media to visually express who they are and their point of view,” says Lacina. “Our Education Department has always strived to give our students a creative place to explore. We want them to feel that they have a voice, a space, and time to make something that is truly theirs.”

Many of the artists featured in this exhibition began their careers from a young age at The Walt Disney Family Museum and continued their enrollment in museum classes and workshops as they—and their art—matured. Some of the students represented in Pencils and Passion have since been accepted to and studied at notable art and film schools, including New York University, CalArts, Ringling College, USC, San Jose State University, and UC Santa Cruz, while other students are now successfully pursuing careers in art and animation at companies, including The Walt Disney Company, Netflix, Illumination Entertainment, DreamWorks Pictures, and Warner Bros. Television and Feature Film.

Pencils and Passion will also feature a short film showcasing the Animation Academy Certificate Program and its inaugural year of students.

This unique exhibition is co-curated by Travis Lacina and Anita Meza, with Studio Coordinator, Grace Lacuesta, and Director of Collections & Exhibitions, Marina Villar Delgado. Pencils and Passion: A Student Art Exhibition will be on view from Thursday, May 11, 2023 and is open free to the public.

See Gallery of All Exhibition Artworks