Kalen Meeks is a stop motion animator and illustrator from the San Francisco Bay Area. Their practice involves the intricate construction of worlds in which their creatures roam. They produced their first stop motion animation at the age of 12, and have been obsessed ever since. Kalen views their work as a palatable way to digest heavy issues regarding capitalism, existentialism, and mental illness. They find inspiration from the macabre combination of children’s book illustrations and wartime propaganda.
In such distressing times, I yearn for ways to find comfort so I don’t self-destruct. Rather than wallowing in the intrusive thoughts my anxiety brings, I create separate worlds within my head in which bad things happen. Animation acts as my dollhouse; a stage where these fables can be granted a visual home. I fabricate tiny worlds with love and care, using sewing skills passed onto me by my mother and grandmother. Through stop motion animation, I am able to confront colossal emotions on a miniature scale. The truths of the world can be morbid, isolating, and full of suffering, but I can candy-coat this harshness through the stories I tell. Grief, loss, despair, and the end of the world become easier to digest when projected in such a manner. In this sense, my work acts as a coping mechanism. While it’s a channel for my own therapeutic ventures, it also acts as an invitation for others to experience solace from their fears and isolation.
The Friend Collector, 2020
Stop Motion Animation based on a childhood memory of love and loss.
Stop Motion Animation exploring notions of self isolation and agoraphobia.
The 2021 Irwin Scholars are Abby McPhillips, Caroline Alfonso, Cassidy Skillman, Chloe Calhoun, Connor Alexander, Kalen Meeks, Klytie Xu, Louisa Balderas, Lucinda Gold, Saul Villegas, Sydney Geisinger, and Zoe Forsyth.