Alumnuts

University High School 1984

Super high-res (800 dpi) image at archive.org!

I recently dug up, scanned and restored this cartoon I drew in 1984 for the Uni High yearbook. It makes me nostalgic not for school (for which I still carry much resentment*) but for the glorious escape drawing provided those years. There were no art classes at Uni while I was there, for which I am eternally grateful. While my liberal friends are mostly “arts education” boosters, I owe my survival to Art staying beyond the reach of school, teachers, and institutionalization. School ruined math, literature, physical exercise, social interactions, and pretty much everything else that could be beautiful – thank doG it didn’t ruin drawing too.

 

*Dropping out of the University of Illinois at the end of my Sophomore year was the first Great Decision I ever made. My second Great Decision was freeing Sita Sings the Blues and dropping out of Copyright. I’ve only made two Great Decisions in my life, but they’re plenty. Dayenu.

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My first solo Art Quilt Show Opens June 15 at Sleepy Creek Vineyards

Mark yer calendars! My first Art Quilt Show opens June 15 at Sleepy Creek Vineyards in hip, happenin’ rural-area-between-Urbana-and-Danville, IL.

Nina Paley Art Quilt Show 2013

Art Quilts will be on the walls June 15-September 15, 2013

Opening: June 15
Reception: 6pm
Screening of Sita Sings the Blues: 8pm

Sleepy Creek Vineyards is three miles south of Oakwood, Illinois, just off Interstate 74 between Danville and Champaign, IL.
Address:  8254 E 1425 North Rd., Fairmount, IL 61841
Phone: 217-733-0330
Directions

Want to see the place? Sleepy Creek has a funny webseries you can watch right now! My favorite is episode 6, it cracks me up.

R.I.P. Roger Ebert

I am so grateful I got to meet Roger Ebert in 2009, when he screened Sita Sings the Blues at Ebertfest. He couldn’t speak then, but he stood onstage while his computer’s synthetic voice read his comments and looked intently in my eyes to make sure I was taking it in. He really wanted me to receive his gift, which was hard because it was so generous.

Roger Ebert and Nina Paley at Eberfest 2009. Photo by Chris Anderson

Here is his longer review of Sita Sings the Blues, which brought many, many viewers to it.

Illinois

I’ve been rather silent this Summer, blog-wise. That’s because I spent it in my hometown Urbana-Champaign, Illinois. And…I’m moving back here for a while. Much as I love New York, the peace, quiet, space, affordability, bike-friendliness, and generally easy living of this place have me hooked for now. I couldn’t wait to get out of here when I was 20 but now, 24 years later, it’s a different town and I’m a different woman (I like to think we’ve both improved). Anyway if I get bored and restless New York will still be there.

While I settle in, enjoy this time-lapse movie of a bike ride I took yesterday:

work-in-progress

Here’s our pal the Angel of Death, hero of the Old Testament, doing what He does best in a scene I’m working on.

It’s been slow going working on Seder-Masocochism. In fact I’ve hardly worked on it at all. Instead I’ve been shuttling between New York and Urbana, IL, attending Ebertfest, hanging out with my Momz, and dating this guy. This “human relationships” stuff takes time, time I could be sitting in a lonely garret with nothing to do but animate. But don’t worry, Urbana will eventually become as boring as I remember it growing up, and I’ll turn inward for solace once again.

Did I mention I plan to spend this Summer in Urbana? It’s just as hot and humid as New York, but the garbage cans are spaced more widely apart and there are fewer tourists. Plus I will have access to a swimming hole out in the prairie. After 8 consecutive Summers in densely-packed New York, that alone is reason for me to spend the hottest months away this year.

Help the University of Illinois Library Help “Nina’s Adventures”

They need $7,000 to scan, prep, and upload my entire comics oeuvre, including Nina’s Adventures and Fluff. Under a Creative Commons Share Alike license, of course, so everyone can see, share, use, and build on them.

The Library is looking for…

$7,000 for Digital Content Creation to digitize a collection of the original comic strip art boards of Nina Paley, an Urbana-born cartoonist and animated filmmaker, whose award-winning animated film Sita Sings the Blues was reviewed by Roger Ebert as “astonishingly original” and selected by him for screening at Ebertfest 2009 in Champaign.
Her cartoon series include Nina’s Adventures (self-syndicated) and Fluff (distributed internationally by Universal Press Syndicate).  Nina’s Adventures was a semi-autobiographical, often experimental, alternative weekly comic strip that delivered incisive commentary on consumerism, overpopulation, and other social issues.  Ms. Paley is interested in making her artwork openly and freely available for distribution and reuse.
If interested please call the Library: (217) 333-5683

Back from Nerd Central

And crazy busy. Chicago and Urbana and Ebertfest were great, amazing, beyond my ability to emotionally comprehend, I’ve never had a week like that before. Then to top it off, Sita won Best Narrative Feature at the Indian Film festival of Los Angeles, and moved to #1 on Critical Consensus. That’s just nuts.

Anyway, it was great being back in Urbana, my hometown, where nerds are made as well as born. I was raised nerd, by nerds, and it’s only a fluke that I appear to be an artist; my heart belongs to nerd-dom. Want proof? Here I am visiting family friend, genius, and art-supporter Theo Gray at Wolfram Research:ninatheo.jpg
My Free Culture activism is nerdy too, inspired as it is by the Free Software movement. Theo doesn’t like it, and made fiercely pro-copyright arguments as only a proprietary software nerd can.

theoninatable.jpg

For contrast, here’s a picture of me with Richard Stallman in New York:
ninastallman.jpg
Whose side am I on, anyway? The side of NERDS!

Back to Illinois

I left my hometown of Urbana, IL, almost 21 years ago, with dreams of becoming a new age crystal-wielding hippie. I was 20 years old. Now I’m 40 (almost 41!) and will be returning with a feature film, for a film festival that didn’t exist when I was growing up. But first: the University of Chicago!

Who’da thunk back in 1988, that I’d be blogging about this in 2009? We couldn’t even imagine blogs back then.

Roger Ebert is my Homeboy

We’re both from Urbana, IL, where I grew up watching At The Movies on WILL TV. And now, he gives a thumbs-up to Sita:

http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2008/12/having_wonderful_time_wish_you.html 

The Midwest: kind of interesting, actually

Hoarfrost by Jean Paley

It turns out my Moms is a good photographer. All those years growing up it was my Dad who carried cameras everywhere, built a darkroom in the basement, walked around in a khaki vest stuffed with oversized lenses… but last year my Moms decides to get a digital camera, and the next thing you know she’s sweeping all the awards at my Dad’s camera club competitions. Here’s why.

My parental units still live in Urbana, IL. As my sister once said, “I’m glad I grew up in Central Illinois, otherwise I never would have seen it.”

Speaking of my hometown, I recently read Finding Iris Chang by Paula Kamen. Iris Chang was also from Urbana; we were the same age and attended the same High School, which I discovered we both hated. But I barely knew her. Iris went on to write the famous book The Rape of Nanking. She committed suicide in 2004. That’s a conversation stopper, huh? Um, anyway…I liked the book. And not just because I’m quoted in it. It’s a good read.