MoMA Presents

Mary Beams and Emily Hubley

Feb 4–17, 2021


From left: and/or. 2012. USA. Directed by Emily Hubley; Whale Songs. 1979. USA. Directed by Mary Beams

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This program of work by independent animators Mary Beams and Emily Hubley celebrates their distinct artistic voices while highlighting common threads of playfulness, introspection, and wonder. Both artists’ hand-drawn techniques imbue their films with a rare fluidity and a sense of abstraction.

In films spanning the 1980s through the 2010s, Emily Hubley balances musings on interior life and memory with joyful animation; energetic lines morph into new figures and colorful worlds belie melancholy. Musical scores by her frequent collaborators Yo La Tengo provide aural abstraction in perfect harmony with the images. Her works explore artistic struggle and creation (and/or), the mystical world of William Blake (Blake Ball), and lessons of greed and earthly pleasure (Enough). A second-generation animator (her parents Faith and John Hubley are also represented in MoMA’s collection), Hubley has spent her life immersed in art making; she has been creating short films of her own for nearly 40 years.

Mary Beams’s 1970s animations, often created on 4 × 6" index cards, include experiments in motion via minimalist Super 8 and 16mm rotoscoping (Paul Revere Is Here, Whale Songs, Going Home Sketchbook), playful explorations of sexuality (Seed Reel No. 1), and hybrids of hand-rubbed animation and live action (Piano Rub). Though at times conjuring home movies, documentaries, or diary films, Beams’s films are a type of personal filmmaking all their own. Through these nine films, premiering here in new digital preservations, Beams conveys a worldview centered around gentleness and delight in the beauty of being alive.

Titles in this program are all drawn from the Museum’s collection. We are also pleased to present the artists in conversation, as they discuss their respective artistic practices.

Virtual Cinema is not available to Annual Pass members or members outside of the US.

Organized by Brittany Shaw, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film.

  • This film series is part of MoMA Presents.

    Film at MoMA is made possible by CHANEL.

    Additional support is provided by the Annual Film Fund. Leadership support for the Annual Film Fund is provided by Debra and Leon D. Black and by Steven Tisch, with major contributions from The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder, MoMA’s Wallis Annenberg Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art through the Annenberg Foundation, the Association of Independent Commercial Producers (AICP), The Junior Associates of The Museum of Modern Art, the Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, Karen and Gary Winnick, and The Brown Foundation, Inc., of Houston.


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