Artist Amelie Chabannes Makes Unladylike Drawings Her latest project brings extraordinary female trailblazers to life.
Brooklyn-based, French-born Amelie Chabannes is a multidisciplinary artist whose expressive, emotive drawings and sculptures explore identity, relationships and history. As someone who has “always been fascinated by personalities” and whose work has referenced cultural figures like performance artist Marina Abramovic, her current project is perhaps unsurprising. Amelie is creating drawings and animations that will be featured in a massive project celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in 2020. Watch the video below to hear from Amelie about this inspired body of work and read on to find out more...
“It’s a haunting subject for me. It’s very important because it’s all about their journey and life and achievements.”
A few years ago, Amelie was asked by filmmaker and friend Charlotte Mangin to collaborate on her ambitious film project, Unladylike. It will tell the stories of the unsung, and often forgotten, heroines of the earliest days of American feminism (think: the first female geneticist, the first female bank president, the first female self-made millionaire). With little photography or archival materials available to support the histories of many of these women, Charlotte turned to Amelie to bring each groundbreaking lady to life through animated drawings.
Amelie brings each groundbreaking lady to life through animated drawings.
Amelie describes her creative process for making the Unladylike drawings as incredibly “free” and unfettered. She first makes the portraits on wood panel, which are then scanned for animation. According to Amelie, they are not meant to be literal or even highly representational portrayals; the drawings and animations skew more toward the “poetic and metaphoric.”
The sprawling multimedia project—it also includes educational projects, exhibitions, a book and more—will be released in late 2019/early 2020. The heart of Unladylike is 31 animated documentary shorts, one for every day of Women’s History Month. Each short film tells the story of one woman from the Progressive Era (1890s-1920s) who was able to push past social expectations and gender boundaries to do something ground-breaking. Amelie’s animated drawings will be essential to telling these narratives. Some of her favorite subjects thus far have been Bessie Coleman, the first black woman to earn a pilot's license, and Theda Bara, a silent movie star who was one of film’s first sex symbols.
“The common thing between these women is that they dreamt really hard.”
Beyond the portraits, Amelie is also creating another unique set of work that will be featured; drawings of people performing circus acts (lion tamers, sword swallowers, fire eaters) will weave through the films, serving as a metaphor for the strength, resilience and endurance common among all of these trailblazing women.
Amelie and Charlotte will begin film production in earnest in the fall and we’re keeping our eyes peeled for the beautiful finished project in a couple short years! Unladylike is supported by Fractured Atlas and you can contribute to this worthy cause here.