Visiting Artist working with student
Pixar Art Director Dan Holland working with an art student during a 2019 workshop
The art of animation involves motion and movement. The very definition of the word animation means liveliness, energy, and vigor. Animation at CVPA is all of that and on the verge of taking off in a very big way.

But let’s rewind the reel for a little history. Associate Professor of Art History Dr. Heather Holian taught a class on “The Art of Disney” when she was in graduate school at Indiana University. She brought that idea to UNC Greensboro, where she expanded the course to include Pixar. Over the years, she has arranged visits from Pixar artists to campus for lectures and workshops. The School of Art also has a number of dedicated animation courses in its New Media & Design curriculum, as well as three Art History courses focused on the art and artists of Disney and Pixar, all taught by Holian. In December of 2019, the School of Art, with the support of Dean bruce mcclung, held a visioning retreat. Holian wasn’t shy about her dreams for animation:

“I spoke up at that meeting and said that I wanted UNCG’s School of Art to be known nationally for recruiting and graduating a highly diverse pool of talented young animators prepared to tell new and different stories in this medium. I think it’s eminently reasonable to set our sights on being the state school of choice for training and empowering new, diverse voices in animation.”

Holian says animation programs are an asset to any art school:

“Animation is an art form in its own regard and it draws upon a range of creative visual and technical skills, some of them quite specific to this field, while others are intertwined with more traditional art forms like drawing, design, photography, and even sculpture and painting. Animation in a School of Art is a perfect marriage of traditional and still relatively new media.”

New this year to CVPA is Dan Hale, Visiting Assistant Professor of Animation, who has experience in the area of 3D animation, the practice of which requires multiple phases to take a project from start to finish. His experience with the full pipeline process will enable him to give insight and direction on each of the phases as well as guide the senior capstone production. Hale agrees that animation will play an important role in the School of Art:

“The field of animation continues to grow, and while in years past one would almost have to commit to moving to the West Coast to gain employment after graduation, a shifting landscape is producing more opportunities closer to home. The rapidly expanding number of streaming platforms as well as online staples like YouTube and Vimeo offer no shortage of ways to reach an audience. Our area is also home to a multitude of video game companies who are always on the lookout for talented digital 3D artists, so to be able to show students practical employment outcomes here in North Carolina is a real benefit.”

Hale holds a degree in Media Studies from UNC Greensboro, and he’s excited to be back:

“It would not be a stretch to say that if I had been asked upon entering graduate school to draw up my dream job, this would have been it. The diversity and immense talent of the students here at UNC Greensboro, coupled with the commitment to the arts by the community at large, makes Greensboro a great incubator of ideas and culture, and an ideal place to be.”

Holian says she’s already thinking about what’s next:

“The addition of Dan to our team enables us to start thinking more expansively about what animation can be at UNC Greensboro! We are excited about the possibility of new, additional curriculum in the area and especially excited about the development of a BFA Animation–a degree track that we expect to add to the School very soon.”

Sounds like animation at CVPA is heading, in the words of Pixar character Buzz Lightyear, “to infinity and beyond!”