“Maureen Selwood is considered one of the most interesting authors in the American world of independent animation, as well as one of the most gifted artists in her field.” - Mario Sesti
Maureen Selwood is a filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist who utilizes drawing, live action, installation, and performance. A pioneer in the field of independent experimental animation, Selwood has both charted new territory for women artists, and reframed conventional notions of women as objects of desire in art history. Known for developing a pictographic language of body gestures and motion, Selwood often works with live footage. She imbues her images with qualities of the mental processes of life, so that they move in a way in which the mind moves dealing with states of mutability in the human psyche. Rooted aesthetically in film noir, dada and surrealism, she often references mythology, poetry and art history. Her work explores carnivals, festivals, and religious rites as celebrations and showcases for the imaginary.
After graduating with her MFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Selwood found herself at the center of a burgeoning new scene in independent animation which aligned itself more with the art world than with the traditional animation establishments of the time. The years Selwood lived in New York City during the 70's and 80's produced such groundbreaking films as: Odalisque, The Rug, This Is Just To Say and Pearls. Critics celebrated Selwood's ingenuity and artistic elegance.
In 1991, after Selwood moved to Los Angeles, Jules Engel invited her to teach at California Institute of the Arts in the Experimental Animation Program. Shaped by influences she experienced there, she produced: Flying Circus: An Imagined Memoir; Hail Mary; Mistaken Identity; Drawing Lessons; and A Modern Convenience.
Selwood posthumously collaborated with her mother for the book, Green Is For Privacy, utilizing images drawn by her mother, who suffered from schizophrenia. The poet, James Galvin wrote the introduction. While studying the origins of the “Ave Maria” (”Hail Mary”) prayer as a Joseph H. Hazen Rome Prize Fellowship recipient at the American Academy of Rome Selwood created the installation, As The Veil Lifts which went on to be exhibited at Frac Picardie, France.
After Rome, Selwood’s work evolved to embrace more installation and performance. As You Desire Me (2009) is a film and installation created in response to the Iraq War. In 2010, Selwood created digital animations for Rain Coloring Forest by Sardono and Jennifer Tipton at REDCAT. In 2014, Selwood created animation for The Metropolitan Opera's production of the opera Werther, by Jules Massenet, with Wendall Harrington. In 2015, Selwood’s film for the composer David Rosenboom, How Much Better if Plymouth Rock Had Landed on the Pilgrims, (Section VII, Impression), was screened at the Whitney Museum. The role of the composer in her work is an integral part of her process. She has collaborated with composers: Michael Riesman: Odalisque and The Rug, Rhys Chatham: The Box, Martin Bresnik: This Is Just To Say, Miroslav Tadic: Flying Circus: An Imagined Memoir, Anna Oxygen: As You Desire Me, Jesse Gilbert and Tanya Haden: Drawing Lessons and Archie Carey and Odeya Nini: A Modern Convenience. The poet Mark Strand performed the voice over for the film, Drawing Lessons.
In 2015, Selwood opened her first solo exhibition at the Rosamund Felsen Gallery in Los Angeles. Titled Sounding the Note of A, this show featured drawings and transfer prints, as well as large sculptural pieces inspired by the balaclavas of Pussy Riot. The show explored themes of treason and the heroism of feminine resistance throughout history. Also in 2015, Selwood created 29 Cross Examinations. With live performance, film, and transcripts from the actual trial of Joan of Arc, Selwood animates Joan’s interior life and cracks open a new perspective on this much mythologized folk hero. This ongoing project explores themes of prescience, sexual identity, religious zeal, and interrogation.
Selwood's work has been widely shown and exhibited around the world, including Sharjah Biennial (2013), with retrospectives at Se-Ma-For International Film Festival (2014), National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, India (2013), REDCAT, and ANIMAC International Animation Festival, Spain (2003). Her films have been screened at Venice Film Festival (Italy), Annecy Animation Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Hong Kong Film Festival, Le Centre Pompidou, Ann Arbor Film Festival, MOMA, Carpenter Center (Harvard), SXSW, Ottawa Film Festival, Cardiff Film Festival, Cork Film Festival, Dallas Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival Chicago Film Festival, and many others. Installations include Tevereterno (Rome, 2006), River to Festival (New York, 2008), Frac Picardie, (France, 2008), American Academy in Rome (2003), MAK Center for Art and Architecture, (Los Angeles, 2001) and others.
Selwood is the recipient of awards from: John Solomon Guggenheim Foundation; Center for Cultural Innovation (Los Angeles); C.O.L.A. Individual Artists Fellowship (LA); New York State Council on the Arts; The Jerome Foundation; The American Film Institute. She held visiting artist residency at the MacDowell Colony and ARTELUKU (Spain), and is the first American animator to receive the Rome Prize in Visual Arts from the American Academy in Rome.
Selwood lives in Los Angeles and teaches at the California Institute of the Arts.