Fairfield Ledger

Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 18, 2017

Stop-motion animators come to town

A team of artists work on a stop-motion animation for “Tiny Circus,” a community-based art project that will visit Fairfield during RAGBRAI July 26.

When RAGBRAI comes to Fairfield July 26, so will the Circus – the Tiny Circus.

A collaborative and community-based art project, Tiny Circus uses the medium of stop-motion animation to create and tell stories. Traveling nationwide to schools, universities, art and film festivals, museums and galleries, Tiny Circus hosts stop-motion animation workshops for people of all ages.

After receiving a grant from the Iowa Arts Council, Tiny Circus will again take its show on the road, creating a documentary animation that captures the places, the faces and the community spirit of RAGBRAI.

“We plan to create a documentary animation using as many RAGBRAI participants as possible,” said project collaborator Erik Jarvis. “We’re going to especially focus on the community aspect of the bike ride.”

For Tiny Circus collaborators, the project will involve conducting interviews of RAGBRAI participants and hosts along the bike route and inviting people in host cities to participate at the organization’s animating table. Tiny Circus also will hold screenings of previously created animations in each town.

During RAGBRAI, Tiny Circus will be operating out of an AirStream and large red tent. In Fairfield, the AirStream will be parked directly across from the Mainstay Inn in the 300 block of North Main Street in the parking area. Tiny Circus collaborators will all be wearing red shirts. Fairfield residents and RAGBRAI riders and festivalgoers are invited to stop by the Airstream and assist with the project.

“At these workshops during RAGBRAI, Tiny Circus will be the facilitators but the people in the towns and the people participating in RAGBRAI will actually be doing the animating,” Jarvis said.

When people go to the tent to work on the project, they will first go to a making table where they will create their objects. After making the objects, they will go to the animating table where they will animate their objects. This is done by moving the object, taking a picture, moving the object a little more, taking another picture and so on.

“You just do that over and over to make your animation,” Jarvis said.

After RAGBRAI, Tiny Circus collaborators will compile all of the video and audio, interviews and collected animations and edit them into the final documentary. The animated production will be showcased in the State Historical Museum of Des Moines as part of a larger RAGBRAI exhibit.

Tiny Circus was founded by Carlos Ferguson in 2008 on his parent’s farm near Grinnell. Ferguson later bought a house in Grinnell that he gradually has been renovating; it now serves as Tiny Circus headquarters. Most recently, Ferguson bought a second home in New Orleans. This will allow Tiny Circus to continue production during the winter months.

So far, Ferguson is the only full-time employee of Tiny Circus. This year, however, he plans to hire more full-time collaborators and apply for non-profit status.

“We’re growing,” Jarvis said, noting that the RAGBRAI project is the most significant animation Tiny Circus has created thus far.

“We have never done anything as big as RAGBRAI,” Jarvis said. “It’s really exciting.”

For more information about Tiny Circus, visit its web site at www.tinycircus.org. Screenings of previously completed animations can be viewed at www.youtube.com/user/tinycircus.

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