To Save & Project Features Preserved Works by Jane Aaron

By Kirsten Larvick

A playful and imaginative mix of hand drawn animation and collage with live-action footage brought delight to many and put Animator/Filmmaker/Illustrator, Jane Aaron on the map. A native New Yorker, Aaron, made a name for herself in the indie film and animation world beginning in the mid-seventies with her unique and joyous stop-motion films.

A Brand New Day (1974), her first effort out of college, became a three-minute simple black and white line-drawn woman who performs her morning routine while occasionally glancing out a window that revealed inventive changing vistas. Aaron’s following film introduced her fascination with inserting animation into live-action footage. In Plain Sight (1977), another short, marks the artist’s start of combing live-action with animated elements. Remains to Be Seen (1983) and others that followed would take on an even more whimsical approach, often incorporating various landscape footage. These compilations could be both charming and wistful, as a reviewer once remarked.

Next month, the Museum of Modern Art’s 14th annual To Save and Project series will celebrate the art of Jane Aaron with screenings of two films preserved by NYWIFT’s Women’s Film Preservation Fund. Set in Motion (1980) and Interior Designs (1986) will play as part of To Save and Project’s Animation and Experimental Cinema. The shorts will be shown with Dragees au Poivre (1963) by Jacques Baratier.


Set in Motion (1980) by Jane Aaron. Image Courtesy of Skip Blumberg

See these enchanting adventures in creativity on Saturday November 5th, 2:30p in T1, Theater 1, and Tuesday, November 8th at 4:00p, T2, Theater 2 at MoMA. Aaron’s handmade signature details on the big screen is an unusual treat.

Set in Motion (1980): A rhythmic free-flowing vision of captured moments from daily life culminates in a visual punchline… the overwhelming accumulation of clutter from the day (and from making this movie). Music Composer, Chris Cerf. 4 min, color.

Interior Designs (1986): A journey through the filmmaker’s world, from the intimacy of her bedroom and studio to the southern California desert and Adirondack mountains, with pixilated drawings shot on location in live action settings, making us aware of the extent of our imagination and that the whole world is susceptible to animation. 5 min, color.

Aaron created many acclaimed independent works, and enjoyed collaboration. She worked with Chris Cerf on a number of shorts, as well as musician Donald Fagen on Traveling Light (1985). The special quality of Aaron’s films led to a long-time relationship with Sesame Street, where she created over 150 pieces using stop-motion animation with live-action to teach children everywhere about numbers, letters, words and their meanings. Just Wondering, a series of six animated shorts inspired by her Sometimes I Feel children book series, were produced by HBO Family. Her work also appeared on networks such as MTV, Nickelodeon and others.

The Whitney Biennial, Museum of Modern Art, The New York Film Festival and festivals in London, Sydney, and Telluride have all featured Jane Aaron films, many of which reside in museum collections including those of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Hirschhorn Museum, The Walker Art Center, and The Exploratorium. Aaron served on the jury at animation festivals in Annecy, France; Hiroshima, Japan and Toronto, Canada.

MoMA’s To Save and Project is organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, Dave Kehr, Adjunct Curator, Department of Film, and Cynthia Rowell. The Women’s Film Preservation Fund is proud to regularly participate in this series with MoMA, who help found the fund in 1995 with the support of Mary Lee Bandy, former Chief Curator, Department of Film, MoMA.

Tickets are $12 for adults; $10 for seniors; and $8 for students. Free to MoMA members.

Buy tickets online.


Kirsten Larvick is a documentarian and preservationist. To find out more, please visit


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