*Midwestern Family Name* Family Reunion

Elle Schwiderson – Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design and School of Music, Theatre & Dance (Interarts)

*Midwestern Last Name* Family Reunion is a interdisciplinary project meant to explore my relationship to family through the lenses of given/chosen family, queerness, and existentialism.

I aim to use many media, ranging from oil paintings, comics, puppets, animation, and performance, to tell a multitude of stories (like the time I put on my cousin’s bikini, or the way the dads stand around and talk about campers like they are people) that investigate the ritualistic practice of my yearly family reunion and the fictional reality where a comet crashes into the event, destroying everything.

The different forms of media will blend and coalesce into each other through a common visual language. The work uses childlike whimsy to tackle mature subject matter. I intend to produce an animation using paintings as staging devices and puppets as my actors to lay out the ritualistic practice of my family reunion and providing overall narrative that includes smaller stories.

The animation will be visually similar to a stage play, with static backgrounds, props, and a proscenium style stage. I have already built 9 animation-ready puppets that represent my family members and myself, along with 6 paintings that serve as backdrops. I will also be incorporating a short performance into the animation that allows me to physicalize the time I was pictured in a bikini at the reunion and how that reflects an early stage of my gender identity being different than societal norms.

All of the work I create will be featured in an installation for all IP (Art and Design Thesis) students in April. I am aiming to make a piece of film that emphasizes the nuance in family dynamics, especially as an existential queer person, so anyone with complicated familial relationships can relate and feel some sense of community.

Completed Project